Gov. Jay Inslee stopped by King County’s vaccine clinic at the Auburn Outlet Collections on Tuesday afternoon (June 22) to speak with vaccine administrators and encourage people to get vaccinated.
Throughout his visit, Inslee had a very clear message for the people of Washington: by getting vaccinated, you can save lives.
“You don’t have to be a heart surgeon or a brain surgeon to save lives. All you have to do is get vaccinated,” Inslee said.
King County set up the vaccine clinic in a space that was once occupied by a Sports Authority. The clinic opened its doors on March 29. Since then, the staff estimates they have administered shots to around 30,000 people. One of the things that makes it an effective location is its placement in the mall.
“We get a lot of walk-ins from the mall. Sometimes we’ll get 100 to 200 people a day just from the mall,” site manager Brian Hamerly said.
Inslee’s visit to the vaccine clinic came at a time when vaccine uptake is slowing down. Auburn, Kent and Federal Way lag behind the rest of King County in the number of vaccinated residents, according to health department data.
Inslee toured the facility and chatted with vaccine administrators and other staff before addressing the media.
During his address, Inslee explained what the state and local departments are doing to ensure the vaccine rollout is equitable and accessible to everyone in the state.
“We’re doing mobile clinics to go out to churches and community centers. We’re doing advertisements in 52 languages to help share medical information with people,” Inslee said. “We are having what we call the caravan. These are vans that the department of health runs that go out and do pop-up clinics in neighborhoods.”
Inslee encouraged people to get vaccinated and to talk with their loved ones about getting vaccinated too. The state will re-open on June 30 — or when 70% of the state’s population age 16 and up is vaccinated. Current Department of Health records indicate that only 68% of the population age 16 and up is vaccinated.
“Everytime someone gets vaccinated, two things happen: we get closer to opening faster, before June 30, possibly, but more importantly, you get a chance to save your life, or your spouse’s or your uncle’s or your grandparents or your kids,” Inslee said.
Inslee ended his address with a suggestion that his office will be extending the eviction moratorium, which was scheduled to end on June 30. As of press time, Inslee was expected to announce Thursday that the moratorium will be extended.
“There will be some action we’ll take in the next several days,” Inslee said. “We think we need a bridge because the Legislature financed a way to help tenants and landlords, but it won’t be in effect for some period of time, so we’re looking at a way to provide a bridge to assist people. We’ll have more to say in the next few days.”
Mary Johnson, one of the clinic staff members who talked with Inslee, appreciated his visit and acknowledgement of the work they do.
“I’m thinking I hit elbows with this guy,” Johnson said. “This is awesome. He was very nice, very friendly and he was very much aware of what we do. He asked great questions and he really listened. I liked that.”
Johnson said her favorite thing about working at the clinic is helping people feel comfortable with getting the shot.
“They might ask us ‘have you had your vaccine’ and I say I sure did and I didn’t get sick, and I feel good about it, I’m glad to see family and friends,” Johnson said. “Usually once they’re in, we can relieve them of any nervousness they have.”
Currently the Auburn clinic has all three vaccines available to patients, so when someone comes in, they get to choose between Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna. Being able to choose among vaccines helps patients feel more comfortable with the process, Johnson said.