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FEMA mobile vaccination unit headed to western Washington

The mobile vaccination unit will open on Dec. 20 at the Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday.

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — A FEMA mobile vaccination unit is coming to King County, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday. 

The site is a partnership between the Washington State Department of Health, the King County Executive's Office, Public Health – Seattle & King County, FEMA, the Washington State Emergency Management Division and King County Emergency Management.

The mobile COVID-19 vaccine site will open on Dec. 20 at the Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center at 31510 Pete Von Reichbauer Way S. The site will allow public health officials to reach areas of Federal Way and Auburn with lower vaccine access than other places in the county. 

"This is an innovative model that will help increase equitable access to vaccination for all Washingtonians,” Inslee said. 

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and King County chose the location for the mobile vaccination unit in an effort to close geographic, racial and ethnic equity gaps in community vaccine access, according to Lacy Fehrenbach, the Department of Health's Deputy Secretary for COVID Response. 

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"To end this pandemic, it is critical vaccines are widely available for everyone. Adding this mobile unit to our toolkit will help us speed up the vaccination process and reach families who have had a more difficult time finding appointments,” Department of Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah said.

Demand for COVID-19 vaccine boosters and pediatric COVID-19 vaccine shots is particularly high following the CDC's decision to expand booster eligibility to all adults 18 and over who have been fully vaccinated for at least six months. 

Calls to the DOH's vaccine locator hotline 833-VAX-HELP have increased by 30 percent and pageviews on the DOH's online vaccine locator jumped by 75 percent in recent days. 

The DOH said it is working on getting more vaccine doses into the state and was just approved to order 30,000 additional doses over the state's cap. The state also requested another 80,000 doses still awaiting approval. 

However, both Inslee and Shah said the high demand for vaccines isn't expected to last. 

"The problem is not access to vaccines, at least on a long-term basis, it's the lack of people willing to get them. There is a temporary bulge in the pipeline because people have been coming in droves in the last few days," Inslee said. "You will be able to get this vaccine if you want it."

"What we have problems with are the 34 percent of the state of Washington who aren't getting the vaccine," Inslee said. "That's what's really dangerous right now in our society."