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Seattle Fire plans house calls to administer COVID-19 vaccine to long-term care residents, staff

The Seattle Fire Department created two teams of firefighters, EMS and paramedics that will vaccinate long-term care facility residents and staff.

SEATTLE — The City of Seattle is looking at ways to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, starting this week with two mobile units heading to long-term care facilities.

“We really are going to direct our efforts to those people who cannot get the vaccination in other ways. We have to close gaps and we have to think about this differently,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

With the slow rollout of vaccines in our state, the Washington Department of Health (DOH) has given the City of Seattle approval to distribute its own supply of vaccines. The city is now relying on the Seattle Fire Department.

“Seattle Fire will immediately launch, boiling off its absolutely incredible testing programs, will launch two mobile vaccination teams. We will start getting our vaccine and start distributing it as soon as Thursday,” Durkan explained.

RELATED: When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine in Washington? Here's how to get notified

The Seattle Fire Department has created two teams of firefighters, EMS and paramedics that will go to all long-term care facilities and adult family homes in Seattle that haven’t yet been given doses from the federal government.

They will give vaccines to all residents and staff who want them.

“At this time, we think we will be able to vaccinate upwards of 100 people per day with two mobile vaccination teams operating in the city,” said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins.

Mobile team vaccinations start Thursday, Jan. 14.

Depending on supply, the Seattle Fire Department plans to have first doses of the vaccine to every adult family home by January 21, and the second doses by February 21.

“This is really an important step in rapidly vaccinating vulnerable Seattle residents, specifically and especially in the continued absence of federal leadership,” said Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold.

The CDC updated recommendations this week, saying all people 65 and older should be given access to the vaccine.

KING 5 is awaiting a response from the DOH whether any changes will be made to the vaccine allocation plan, based on the CDC’s recommendation.

For now, Seattle's plan is to stick with Phase 1A, but Scoggins said that could change if guidance changes.

“Right now, our focus is following Seattle King County Public Health guidance and merely working through the adult family homes," Scoggins said. "But our goal is to expand this in the future. Just like I said earlier, you know, we want to extend the gap and we want to help communities. So, if we’re giving the vaccinations and with guidance and directions, we’re more than happy to step into whatever space they put us in,” he said.

And mass vaccination sites are the horizon for Seattle. It all just depends on supply, according to Durkan.

“We hope that if we can get that steady supply, we will stand up mass vaccination sites sometime, side-by-side with our testing sites, but using that same model and resources. Because we know that we can’t get to 70% of people to have some kind of immunity unless we can do this on a really large scale,” she said.

In a one-on-one interview with KING 5, Durkan explained more of the city’s plan for mass vaccination sites. She explained places like Lumen Field and T-Mobile Park could be options for sites, but the city is leaning more toward several small sites rather than one large one.

“One of the challenges we have is because the vaccinations have to be refrigerated. You don't want this place so large that you can't control the ins and outs. And we've seen that, with having dispersed sites right now, has actually been more effective than one large site. And so, we're going to continue to assess where is the need and who's not getting the vaccine. And that's where the city is going to try to stand up the vaccinations, working with public health, working with the county and the state,” she said.