Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday announced that effective April 15, all Washingtonians age 16 and up will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Over the past four months, since Washington began administering doses of the vaccination, the state has followed a tiered eligibility system, beginning with those most at risk of hospitalization and death.
The governor and the State Department of Health (DOH) have also prioritized equity issues in each phase to ensure vaccine access to populations disproportionately affected by the virus, including communities of color and low-income communities.
The expansion of eligibility comes, in part, in response to a recent uptick in COVID cases in the state.
"We must do everything possible to ensure that we can keep cases down," Inslee said. "We have concerns about the trends we are seeing across the state and we must be cautious. Opening up full eligibility will be one tool to help in the fight against the virus.
"If we get vaccinated and continue the health practices that keep those around us healthy - masks, distancing, and basic hygiene - we're going to knock this virus down. But we cannot get complacent. We feel like we are done with COVID, but this virus is not done with us yet."
Roughly 3.4 million doses have been administered in Washington to date, and more than one million residents have been fully vaccinated.