Microsoft campus near Seattle will be used to administer COVID-19 vaccines

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The empty Microsoft Commons last month at the company’s campus in Redmond, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Microsoft is turning its empty campus into a COVID-19 vaccination site.

The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant is working with the state of Washington and local hospitals to open up buildings at its headquarters for vaccine administration.

Microsoft President Brad Smith made the announcement Monday as part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s news conference detailing the state’s new COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.

The company will provide both space and support staff to help administer vaccines for Washington residents. Smith said the goal by next month is to have its campus be one of the mass vaccination sites across the state.

“This is not going to be a site for Microsoft employees; this is going to be a site for people in the community,” Smith said.

Smith added that Microsoft is helping reduce the cost of administering vaccines and helping uninsured people get vaccinated.

Emptied by pandemic and overtaken by cranes, Microsoft HQ is a symbol of the changing world

Microsoft’s sprawling campus in Redmond is currently the high-tech equivalent of a ghost town as employees work from home amid the pandemic.

Microsoft is among a group of Washington-based businesses including Starbucks and Costco that are part of the new Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center. The company is also providing “technology expertise and support.” Microsoft didn’t have further details when contacted by GeekWire.

“Technology plays a role in the distribution of vaccines, as it does in the distribution of everything in the world today,” Smith said. He noted the Phase Finder app that helps people figure out when they are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and the back-end systems that support scheduling appointments and site locators.

Starbucks is helping with “operational efficiency, scalable modeling and human-centered design expertise and support,” while Costco is helping with “vaccine delivery by pharmacies.”

Other stakeholders in the public-private partnership include Kaiser Permanente; local unions; and the National Guard.

Microsoft is working with Salesforce and Oracle as part of a separate deal for digital vaccination records.

Inslee announced Monday that the state aims to reach 45,000 daily vaccinations. The governor also lowered the age threshold from 70 to 65, which provides access to nearly 400,000 more people, and announced plans for other mass vaccination sites.

“The focus on setting a bold goal and building distribution capacity ahead of supply is precisely what the people of Washington need,” Smith said.

Microsoft’s role as a vaccination site also sparked some jokes on Twitter:

I suppose I have to go for this old chestnut:

"I was vaccinated on Microsoft campus."

"How’d it go?"

"Great, except it won't work properly until version 3.0”

— Dina Bass (@dinabass) January 19, 2021

"I was vaccinated on Microsoft campus."

"How’d it go?"
It hurt a bit. They told me that’s “Great Feedback.”

— Treb Gatte (@tgatte) January 19, 2021

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