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Many Washington vaccine clinics offer COVID-19 shots to volunteers of all ages

Vaccine providers say they consider their volunteers to be healthcare workers and the clinics couldn't run without them.

SEATTLE — One way to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington state no matter what phase you qualify for is to volunteer at a vaccine clinic. But opportunities are limited, and slots are filled quickly.

Swedish Medical Center said it is justified in providing COVID-19 vaccines for people of all ages who volunteer at its Seattle University clinic.

"We consider our volunteers in the clinic to fall in Phase 1a healthcare workers, as we would not be able to run the clinic without them,” Swedish said in a statement.

RELATED: How to volunteer at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in western Washington

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health said that vaccinating its volunteers keeps them healthy, so they can commit a minimum of 20 hours over the course of three months.

“Volunteers are essential to helping our clinics function effectively, and when it is possible to provide a vaccine appointment to enhance their safety, we will try to do so in accordance with state guidelines,” the provider said in a statement.

The Washington Department of Health says providers should prioritize volunteers who are at high-risk of COVID-19 exposure, especially those who cannot socially distance.

“We would need employers or volunteer organizations, plus the volunteer themselves, to consider their risk level and judge to their best ability if they meet the criteria of high risk or not,” a Department of Health spokesperson said. “If they do feel they are eligible in the current phase, they could sign up for a vaccination appointment.”

Demand for volunteer opportunities is very high at some sites, and the need fluctuates based on vaccine supply.

Seattle U said opportunities at the Swedish clinic are first-come, first-served, and slots fill up fast.

RELATED: How to volunteer at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in western Washington