vaccine local

Stan Helmka of Yakima receives his first shot of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine from Annie Edwards, a labor and delivery nurse from Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, during a vaccination event at Horizon Pharmacy in Wapato on Feb. 13

As of Wednesday, the state will no longer require vaccine eligibility verification through its Phase Finder tool.

State public health officials said the move is designed to remove a barrier for those who are eligible for the vaccine.

“The goal is to vaccinate as many vulnerable community members as fast as possible before opening vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years and older in just a few weeks. Removing Phase Finder will help speed up the process by reducing barriers for eligible individuals,” said Michele Roberts, one of the state leaders for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in a state Department of Health news release. “We trust most people will continue to do the right thing and wait their turn to be vaccinated.”

While the Phase Finder is ending, the state is keeping its vaccine phases. The state is in Phase 1B, Tier 2 and those in earlier phases are still eligible as well. People who work in agriculture, grocery stores, corrections, jails, public transit and remaining first responders are eligible. Also included: people who are pregnant or who have a disability that puts them at high risk.

Others eligible for vaccinations are everyone 65 and over, those 50 and over in multigenerational households, preschool through grade 12 educators, child care providers, health care workers, first responders, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities.

The state will advance to Phase 1B, Tiers 3 and 4 on Wednesday, expanding eligibility to restaurant, construction and manufacturing workers; anyone between 60 and 64 years of age; and anyone with two or more underlying conditions.

People should now to refer to the state Department of Health’s prioritization guidance webpage at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/VaccineInformation/Allocationand Prioritization to see when they would be eligible to get vaccinated. If eligible, people can use the state’s vaccine locater in https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov. After Tuesday, those who visit the Phase Finder site will be redirected to the vaccine locator.

Those who have questions or need help making an appointment can also call the state’s COVID-19 information hotline at 1-800-525-0127.

Reach Mai Hoang at maihoang@yakimaherald.com or Twitter @maiphoang