How to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine in Washington

Posted on 05/07/21 by Emily Paulin

Phase Finder, the state’s online vaccine eligibility tool, will no longer be required to verify COVID-19 vaccine eligibility starting March 31.

Life Care Center of Kirkland Residents Receive COVID-19 Vaccinations

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • People 16 and older who live or work in Washington state

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • Local and state vaccination sites, including hospitals, county health departments, community health centers, medical centers, pharmacies, local events and the state's mass vaccination sites can be found via the state’s Vaccinate WA website. The site asks for your zip code, then generates a list of nearby providers, including their name, location, vaccine availability (if provided) and a link to where to register for an appointment. Some locations are taking walk-ins, no appointment necessary.
  • The federal government’s vaccines website, Vaccines.gov, lets you search for vaccination sites by zip code, with links to appointments. You can use the same tool by texting your zip code to 438829 to find vaccine sites. 
  • Through your employer or living facility. Some Washingtonians who were prioritized for vaccinations because of their job, such as teachers, or because of where they live, such as nursing home residents, may be able to get vaccinated through their workplaces or the facilities where they reside. Check with your employer or residence before scheduling a vaccination appointment.
  • The state’s toll-free COVID-19 helplines at 800-525-0127 (press #) and 888-856-5816 can assist those needing extra help finding or registering for an appointment. Questions can also be emailed to COVID.Vaccine@doh.wa.gov.

AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

Some providers may ask for your driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine.

If you are prioritized because of an underlying medical condition or based on your work, you may need a note from your doctor, a pay stub or badge, or some other form of proof. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment. 

How are residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities getting vaccinated?

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Washington are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines via free on-site clinics. Apart from a very small number of outstanding clinics, the program is complete. 

To ensure long-term care facilities still have access to COVID-19 vaccines — for new residents or staff, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots — the federal government is continuing to allocate vaccines to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities. 

Which vaccines require a second shot? 

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider stating when and where to return for the second dose. The state says it will send reminders via text, emails and phone calls.   

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine requires just one shot. Federal officials warn that the vaccine has been connected with rare, severe blood clots in a small number of recipients, especially in women age 50 years and younger.

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot. 

Do I have to pay for the vaccination?  

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).

Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

What should I do with my vaccine card? 

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.  

You may need your vaccine card for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft. If you lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy. 

When will kids be able to get vaccinated? 

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older. Pfizer has asked federal officials to consider expanding eligibility for its vaccine to those as young as 12, and both companies are researching how their vaccines work in children as young as 6 months. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he expects high school students will be able to get a vaccine by this fall and that “kids of any age” will likely be eligible by early next year. 

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?   

It depends. Experts are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the CDC recommends taking precautions in public even after you’re vaccinated. That includes wearing masks and social distancing in many situations and avoiding large indoor crowds. 

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and after the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, the CDC says. They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without having to wear masks, unless anyone is at high risk for severe COVID-19. 

Vaccinated people also don’t need to wear masks at outdoor gatherings with small groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the CDC says. That includes eating with friends outdoors at a restaurant. But the CDC recommends masks for large outdoor events and for indoor activities like eating inside a restaurant, shopping and attending religious services. 

This guide, originally published Jan. 22, was updated May 7 with new information on where you can get vaccinated.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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