SEATTLE — The City of Seattle opened its first mass vaccination site at the Lumen Field Event Center on Saturday, making it the largest civilian-led vaccination site in the country.
The center was formally CenturyLink Field Event Center. The vaccination site is a partnership between the city, First & Goal Inc. and Swedish.
King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Swedish Health Services CEO Guy Hudson welcomed the first patients Saturday.
Durkan said the site will initially vaccinate around 5,000 people per week, but could eventually handle 150,000 per week, or 22,000 vaccinations a day, at full capacity if the COVID-19 vaccine supply is available.
"I think there's been a supply issue and we think that supply problem will be done soon," said Durkan Saturday. "This week, Mayor Garcetti [of Los Angeles], myself, and a few other large city mayors met with he White House about getting doses directly out to cities and counties."
Swedish said it has a network of thousands of volunteers to help run the vaccination clinics. Dr. Preetma Kooner spent Saturday administering vaccines as a volunteer, but said the situation is not ideal.
"I personally think it's a failing in our health care system that we're relying on people's goodwill instead of having a system in a network during a crisis or pandemic that should work," said Kooner.
The site plans to be open two to three days a week and vaccines will be available by appointment only. People who received vaccines Saturday said the process went smoothly.
"Probably right when I entered to getting the shot was ten minutes max," said one woman who got the shot. "It's easy, just do it, everybody, stay safe."
Vaccine appointments will be prioritized for community-based organizations serving Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities, older adults, and immigrants and refugees. However, people currently eligible for the vaccine per the state's phase plan will be able to register.
"With additional vaccine doses and a small but steady increase in the coming weeks, the City of Seattle is ready to significantly expand its vaccination efforts to reach thousands more vulnerable Seattleites. We have been working on this massive, unprecedented effort for months. We've had the infrastructure in place, we just needed the vaccine," Mayor Durkan previously said. "This is an important step to significantly increase our vaccination rate in Seattle, but there's so much more to be done. Ultimately, it will take all of us – employers, health care providers, philanthropy, unions, nonprofits, community-based organizations, and all levels of government – using all the tools at our disposal to get our community vaccinated equitably. I'm deeply grateful to our partners across the city – and to Governor [Jay] Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health – for their collaboration to vaccinate our most vulnerable communities."
King County Executive Dow Constantine said the facility is a "critical piece of our road to recovery." The event center, he said, will compliment sites that are already operating throughout the county.
Patty Hayes, the director of Public Health - Seattle & King County, said the site is important because the region needs to be prepared for when doses become more readily available.