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Long lines complicate Washington's COVID-19 vaccine rollout

One month after the first people started receiving COVID-19 shots in Washington state, getting the vaccine still isn't easy.

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — There were long lines in Pierce County Tuesday, as 2,000 people lined up to get the coronavirus vaccine.

This event was by appointment only, with all spots filled up. Many waited in line in their cars for more than an hour in order to receive the vaccine.

Rose Marie Matestic, 73, was all smiles an hour into her wait to get vaccinated.

“It’s about time we got this,” Matestic said. “Finally, we heard about this and got on right away.” 

The COVID-19 vaccine is available to anyone age 65 years and above, or over 50 years old if they live in a multigenerational home.

The state has distributed about 500,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and about 5% of the state has started the vaccination process.

RELATED: Washington administers 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines as more vaccination sites announced

But one month after the first COVID-19 vaccinations in Washington state, about 1% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated and appointments have been in high demand.

Slots filled up quickly at Pierce County's first mass distribution site in Lakewood on Tuesday. Another event planned for Puyallup on Jan. 28 is already booked up.

“Obviously, there has been a rough start at the federal level and the state level. We want to make sure that this doesn’t happen at the Pierce County level. We want to make sure that as soon as we can get any vaccine into our community, we want to get it into the arms protecting one of our residents,” said Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier.

In Skagit County, there was a similar scene.

At the fairgrounds, 300 people a day have been vaccinated Tuesdays through Saturdays and they’re already booked for the week.

While daily vaccination numbers are going up across the state, Washington is a little over halfway toward the governor's daily goal of 45,000 doses administered per day.

“We still have a long way to go and many days to get there with the number of people we need to vaccinate,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Both Inslee and President Joe Biden in press conferences Tuesday afternoon announced measures to step up vaccination rates, though both say it’s a process that will likely take months.

Inslee said the daily vaccine rates are going up, thanks both to volunteers and to private companies.

Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks also offered to help with the government rollout. On Sunday, Amazon vaccinated 2,000 members of the public in Seattle