Through our partnership with King County, we are bringing you real-time, relevant information on what is happening regarding vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccination is the critical path to a safe, sustained reopening and recovery and our business community is an important messenger in this work.
Last week brought new incentives to encourage vaccination at the national level and here in Washington state. New investigations were started into possible rare health side effects from mRNA vaccines. Public Health – Seattle & King County continues to work closely with the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control on impacts to King County residents.
On May 19, Patty Hayes, director of Public Health, announced her retirement from the department after 30 years of public service. Her last day was May 28. Public Health – Seattle & King County has a new interim director to lead the health department – Dennis Worsham – while the executive conducts a national search for a permanent director.
To increase the number of people vaccinated, and reach his goal of getting 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4, President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday a “month of action” to urge more Americans to get their COVID-19 shot before the holiday. Remarking on the freedom America will soon experience, the administration will continue its plan of using public-private partnerships to ensure vaccines are available and to incentivize action:
- Anheuser-Busch announced it will buy those 21+ a round of beer when President Biden’s 70% goal is met.
- Early childhood centers like KinderCare, Learning Care Group, Bright Horizons, and more than 500 YMCAs are partnering with the White House to provide free childcare coverage for Americans looking to get vaccinated or who need assistance while recovering from possible side effects.
- DoorDash is providing gift cards to community health centers for distribution.
- CVS launched a sweepstakes with free cruises and Super Bowl tickets as prizes.
- Major League Baseball continues to host on-site vaccination and ticket giveaways.
- Kroger will give $1 million to one vaccinated person each week this month, along with free groceries for the year to dozens of people.
Here in Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Thursday a set of incentives to encourage new vaccinations, and also reward those who have already received their COVID-19 vaccine. The Governor’s Office will be working with the Washington State Lottery, higher education institutions, sports teams, and technology companies to give prizes to vaccinated individuals. These include:
- Lottery cash drawings – one $250,000 drawing every week for four weeks with a final $1 million drawing at the end of the month.
- Nearly $1 million dispersed to public four-year universities and two-year community and technical colleges to run their own drawings for free tuition and expenses to vaccinated students, as well as 30 prizes of one year of tuition college credits directly to families of 12–17-year-olds through the GET program.
- Numerous ticket offerings and prizes from major Seattle sports teams.
- Gift card programs from the Department of Commerce, Association of Washington Business, and local chambers of commerce, as well as Department of Health and State Parks.
All Washington state vaccine incentive prizes will be drawn from the Department of Health immunization database to determine winners. All Washingtonians need to do is be vaccinated or go get their vaccine for a chance to win.
The Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle & King County are currently investigating reports of a slight increase in the number of myocarditis cases following COVID mRNA vaccines among those ages 16–30 in the past month. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle and is treatable or may be resolved on its own.
Currently, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientists have not yet established if there is a link between COVID-19 mRNA vaccines and these limited number of cases, according to the county. The Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle & King County have alerted health care providers to watch for these conditions and will continue to evaluate if there is a link. The emergence of this information and investigations happening across the country are signs that the vaccine safety systems are working.
Great progress on vaccination in King County continues as we extend protection to more and more people in our community, increasing the opportunity for us to all do more with others as safely as possible. The most important thing we can do to reduce infections and hospitalizations and keep moving forward with reopening is to keep increasing our vaccination rates.
It continues to be incredibly easy to get vaccinated across King County, with access points throughout the county accepting patients without appointments. COVID-19 vaccinations are provided at no charge to all people. Most sites now offer a choice of at least two available vaccines.