As vaccination efforts have ramped up over the last several months to prevent the spread of COVID-19, labor unions and community partners have been tapped as trusted resources to help get people immunized against this deadly virus.
The Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) – a statewide coalition of unions of which PROTEC17 is a part – has compiled an extensive list of information to help union members and their families understand how the vaccine works, with supporting testimonies from union members about its importance. You can find these resources at: wslc.org/covid-vaccine.
In King County, MLK Labor has partnered with the City of Seattle to bring together unions to help in the effort to reach the most vulnerable populations, including the elderly, immigrant communities, and people of color, who are being disproportionately impacted by the virus. Through this effort, PROTEC17 is working with MLK Labor and the City to help members secure a vaccination appointment at one of four clinics in Seattle, including at Rainier Beach, West Seattle, North Seattle, and at the new mass vaccination site at Lumen Field in the heart of the city.
The Lumen Field site – currently the largest vaccine clinic in the country – takes place at the spacious event center just south of downtown Seattle. It is now fully up and running, just in time for the expansion of vaccine eligibility to all people over the age of 16 on April 15. This clinic will be able to vaccinate over 22,000 people per day.
Prior to April 15, the vaccine was being rolled-out in phases starting with the most vulnerable community members, including those over the age of 60, or with multiple medical conditions, or those working in public-facing industries such as health care, grocery, and transit, to name a few.
PROTEC17 also worked with King County Metro to help spread the word to our transit members about a special vaccine pop-up clinic at the South Training Center in Tukwila on April 9. This clinic served Metro members who have been working onsite throughout the pandemic, and used the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Members will be getting their second dose on April 30.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots to get the full immunization against COVID-19, so these clinics will be busy for many months in order to administer both doses, in an attempt to reach herd immunity. Scientists and health experts suspect that about 60-70% of the population needs to be immunized against the coronavirus before we reach the point at which the virus cannot as easily be transferred from person to person. In the meantime, face masks and social distancing remain the recommended norm.
Back at Lumen Field (pictured at right before the grand opening), the City hired nearly 200 Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) – who are represented by PROTEC17 – to help many thousands of people through the vaccination process there.
The CSRs will be guiding patients through the lines, answering questions, and being a friendly (masked!) face during the process, much like the CSRs that were hired last summer to help at the COVID testing sites throughout the City.
“I’m excited to welcome the many new members who’ve been hired to help get us all vaccinated,” said PROTEC17 Executive Director Karen Estevenin.
“So many of our members have played a key role in keeping people safe during this crisis, as well as helping move us toward an end to this pandemic,” she continued. “From our frontline members to everyone who’s worked behind the scenes to keep our government services going, I am proud of all of the work our members have done over the last year, and continue to do, for the greater good.”