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COVID-19 vaccine appointments open at Spokane Arena, local providers

UPDATED: Sat., April 3, 2021

There are hundreds of vaccine appointments available today and Saturday for first dose shot of the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
There are hundreds of vaccine appointments available today and Saturday for first dose shot of the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

Hundreds of appointments are still open on Saturday and next week at the Spokane Arena for eligible residents to receive their first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Currently you are eligible to get vaccinated if you:

  • Are 60 and older or 50 and older living in a multigenerational household.
  • Work in health care, emergency response, long-term care, K-12 education, child care, agriculture, food processing, grocery stores, restaurants or construction.
  • Are 16 and older with two or more underlying health conditions, pregnant or have a disability that puts you at high risk for contracting the virus.
  • Live or work in a group home, detention center, homeless shelter or other congregate setting.

Vaccine providers no longer require proof from the state’s Phase Finder tool to get vaccinated, so all eligible adults are encouraged to schedule an appointment at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena mass vaccination site, or a local pharmacy or health care provider. To find an appointment, use the state’s Vaccine Locator tool to schedule a first-dose appointment, or you can call (800) 525-0127, then press #.

The Spokane Arena mass vaccination site has averaged about 5,000 doses administered per week since Safeway-Albertsons took over administration of the site in early March, but the site could double that capacity if necessary.

Currently, the Spokane Arena has 25,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, with half of those claimed for second doses. That vaccine is for people 18 and older. There are many appointments available on Saturday and next week for first doses, however.

The Arena will be operating at new hours starting next week: Tuesday through Thursday, the site will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday, the site will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Organizers hope these times will help accommodate essential workers’ schedules, which often do not align with a typical 9-to-5 workday.

The mass vaccination site has continued to evolve with the needs of the community to make the process as efficient as possible, said Robert Queen, who manages many Safeway pharmacies in the Inland Northwest and is based at the Arena site.

If an eligible community member can’t make an appointment online, they can now walk up to the ticket booth at the front of the Arena and schedule an appointment, in some cases on the same day. Extra doses at the end of the day are given out based on a cellphone call lottery, where residents can come to Lot A at the end of the day in case there are leftover doses.

Second appointments are scheduled using a smartphone and the QR code on the walls of the arena waiting area, where people must wait for at least 15 minutes after receiving each dose. There are also Safeway associates signing people up for second-dose appointments at a table before you leave the arena.

Queen said there are rarely more than eight or nine doses left by the end of the day, and since Safeway has set up at the arena, they have not wasted a single dose.

While some community members might be able to get their vaccine at their doctor’s office or health care provider, Queen said the arena site is serving community members who might not have access to those vaccine opportunities.

“We have the capacity here more so than any other facility in the Spokane area to take care of the underlying needs in our community,” he said.

Local restaurants and employers are urging their employees to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

“We’ll do everything we can to get people vaccinated without telling them they have to,” Marshall Powell, who manages Elk Public House, said.

Grocery store workers in Eastern Washington represented by the UFCW 1439 union are able to access the vaccine, said Laurel Fish, spokeswoman for the union. She said, thus far, workers are not struggling to make vaccine appointments.

Juli Norris, the owner of Downriver Grill, said she is excited for her employees, whom she considers to be on the front lines because of their exposure to people eating and drinking without masks on, to get vaccinated.

“I am excited for the opportunity for all our staff and our local community to be able to take the vaccine because I feel like it’s going to help things get back to normal and help our local economy and restaurant and hospitality industry,” Norris said.

In less than two weeks, all residents 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, so currently eligible workers are encouraged to get vaccinated before even more residents become eligible.

Queen expects to see a surge of demand on April 15, when all adults become eligible for the vaccine. He hopes to see a surge in demand before then, however.

“Our preference would be to be at capacity right now,” he said.

Here’s a look at local numbersThe Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 78 new cases on Friday and no additional deaths.

The death data is being reconciled with state data, and the currently listed number of deaths in Spokane County residents due to COVID-19 is 601.

There are 37 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in Spokane hospitals.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 17 new cases on Friday and two additional deaths. So far, 286 Panhandle residents have died due to COVID-19.

There are 21 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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