COVID vaccinations: Questions and answers

Mar 1st, 2021 | By | Category: Spotlight

COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in Washington to adults 65 and older, adults 50 and older living in multi-generation households, residents and employees of nursing homes, assisted-living communities and other long-term care facilities, healthcare workers, and first-responders.

The state Department of Health has information about eligibility, availability, and scheduling of vaccination appointments at 1-800-525-0127,, and

Here is a Q and A about vaccinating and related topics, based on information in mid-February from state and federal health authorities.

When can all adults get vaccinated?

After the initial phase involving older adults, long-term care residents and employees, and healthcare workers, the next phases in order will be:

  • High-risk critical workers 50 and older who work in agriculture, child care, food processing, firefighting, grocery stores, public schools, law enforcement, prisons and jails, and public transit.
  • People 16 and older who have two or more underlying medical conditions that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says put tghem at greater risk of severe COVID-19.
  • High-risk critical workers under 50 who work in certain group settings, and residents, staff and volunteers in group living quarters such as homes for people with disabilities, homeless shelters, and domestic violence shelters.

The state hopes to start vaccinating these groups in late winter or early spring.

Where can I get a vaccine? 

Locations can be found on the state Department of Health (DOH) Phase Finder Tool at Assistance is also available at 1-800-525-0127. Those who are eligible will receive a confirmation and a list of vaccine providers, including hospitals, county health departments, medical clinics and pharmacies. They then must contact a provider to schedule an appointment. For those not yet eligible, the tool will record their mobile number and e-mail address to let them know once they’re eligible.

How will residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get vaccinated?

Residents and staff are being vaccinated through a federal program that has contracted with CVS and Walgreen pharmacies to administer vaccines free on-site. CVS and Walgreen have finished offering first doses and are now in administering second doses.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination? 

The federal government is buying the vaccine and getting it to providers for free. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. Fees are covered by patients’ insurance or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example). There shouldn’t be out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine.


Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?

The vaccine is one part of slowing the spread of the coronavirus. It could take months to build up immunity, so the CDC recommends face masks and social distancing. In addition, it’s not yet clear how effective the vaccines are against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus, although they would still provide some protection, according to health officials.

Adults 65 and older are among the first-priority recipients of COVID-19 vaccinations in Washington.