Starbucks Is Helping Roll Out the COVID Vaccine in Washington
On Monday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a new plan to significantly ramp up the state's ongoing vaccination efforts. During a press conference, he announced that the age of eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine has been lowered from 70 to 65; that providers must administer 95 percent of their doses within a week of receipt; and the creation of the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center (WSVCCC), a coalition of public and private companies that will work to accelerate the distribution and delivery of vaccine doses throughout the state.
"This is a massive effort, and as noble as any cause will be in 2021: Because this is the year we choose to get vaccinated, Washington," Inslee said. "We are removing as many impediments as possible to Washingtonians getting vaccinated, we are going to deliver every dose that comes into our state. We will still be dependent on the federal government for doses, but we are doing everything we can once it gets here."
The stakeholders in the WSVCCC include Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft (whose Redmond headquarters will be used as a massive vaccination site), and Starbucks. According to NBC News, the Seattle-based coffee giant has assigned several of its employees "with expertise in labor and deployment operations, and research and development" to work with the state government on its distribution efforts.
"This is an opportunity to serve others and have impact on a significant humanitarian effort," Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement. "Governor Inslee has convened some of the best public and private resources and capabilities to engage in a concerted effort to optimize and accelerate the vaccination process across our home state. We are proud to contribute in every way we can to help operationalize and scale equitable access to the vaccine."
Johnson said that he approached the state earlier this month to inquire how the company could assist in the vaccination efforts. "I just did the math, and figured out at this rate of vaccination, it's going to take six, seven, eight years for this country to get vaccinated," he said. "So we have to dramatically scale this up and accelerate the progress." (To clarify, Starbucks is helping the state behind-the-scenes; at this time, there is no indication that it will turn its cafes into vaccination centers.)
As of the beginning of this week, 31,581 Washington residents have received both doses of the vaccine, out of a population of 7.6 million. In the weeks and months ahead, Inslee hopes that the WSVCCC's efforts will make it possible for the state to vaccinate 45,000 people each day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.2 million people in the U.S. have had one dose of the vaccine, while 1.6 million have already received both doses; the latter number represents 0.48 percent of the total population. President-elect Joe Biden has his own vaccine distribution plan, which includes establishing thousands of vaccination centers across the country and making the shots available at additional independent and chain pharmacies, with a goal of giving 100 million shots within his first 100 days in office.
Starbucks may not have signed on to help on a national level yet—but those involved in this ambitious effort are most likely going to need a steady stream of caffeine in the coming months.