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Washington health officials urge patience as all adults become eligible for vaccine Thursday

Washington state is opening vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and older, due in part to the "disturbing trend" of rising coronavirus cases.

SEATTLE — On Thursday, April 15, everyone age 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington. 

Under Washington's vaccine timeline, the initial target date was May 1. However, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state was moving up the eligibility date partially due to the "disturbing trend" of rising cases in areas of the state. 

In a media briefing Wednesday, Secretary of Health Umair Shah said rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Washington could represent the beginning of a fourth wave of the pandemic. 

Health officials are asking residents to be patient as eligibility opens and more people are looking for appointments. Come Thursday, 1.5 million more people will be eligible for the vaccine, adding to the 5 million already qualified to get the shot. 

Acting Assistant Secretary of Health Michele Roberts said providers in the state have the resources and plans in place to vaccinate more people. However, vaccine supply is not increasing as quickly as demand.

The state's vaccine allotment decreased by 100,000 doses from the week before. However, the state's pause on administering Johnson & Johnson vaccines will not majorly impact the rollout, according to health officials.

The state was only expecting about 12,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The state is expecting to receive 365,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna this week. 

The state is vaccinating 57,000 people a day on average, according to DOH data.