The wait is over; starting today COVID vaccines are available for all Washingtonians 16 and older.

Statewide that means about 1.5 million additional people are eligible, joining the 4 to 5 million already eligible, according to the state Department of Health.

“As we move into the next tier, it may be more difficult to find an appointment,” the department said in a Wednesday news release. “We ask that people please be patient and know that while you may not get the vaccine today, you will get it soon.”

Availability has not been an issue locally since the federal mass vaccination site opened at State Fair Park on March 31. But that could change as more and more people are eligible, said Nathan Johnson, local emergency response coordinator with the Yakima Health District. The vaccination center has the capacity to vaccinate roughly 1,200 people per day, with 1,000 of those doses allocated by the federal government.

“The best time to get the vaccine is now,” Johnson said in a news release. “Get your vaccine at the location most convenient to you. We are seeing appointments beginning on April 15, 2021, quickly filling up and want to make sure all of our community members get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The Yakima Health District’s health officer, Dr. Larry Jecha, underlined that message, saying vaccination is for the good of the community. This despite the federal government’s recent decision to pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of extremely rare potential side effects. Of the approximately 7 million people who have received the single-dose vaccine, six women have developed serious blood clots.

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People should not take the pause to mean the other vaccines are unsafe, Jecha said in the news release. During the pause only Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be used.

“We encourage individuals to continue getting vaccinated,” he said. “The decision to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was out of an abundance of caution. We have available vaccines now that are extremely effective against COVID-19. We encourage you to get vaccinated and build immunity for our community.”

The vaccination center at State Fair Park, 1301 S. Fair Ave., is open daily 10 a.m.-7 p.m. On April 25 those hours will change to noon-8 p.m. Appointments are available at prepmod.doh.wa.gov or by calling 800-525-0127 and pressing #. Walkups are welcome, but appointments are strongly encouraged.

In addition to the site at State Fair Park, vaccinations also are available at hospitals, clinics and pharmacies around the county. Businesses and community organizations also are putting together their own vaccine clinics. People interested in scheduling a mobile vaccine clinic can email yakimavaccinemobileteam@gmail.com.

Vaccines are offered at no cost.