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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Woodward to Spokane: I’m getting vaccinated and you should, too

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Providence Health Care Chief Operation Officer Peg Currie on April 22 at the Gonzaga University Martin Centre Field House.  (Dan Pelle/THESPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward wasted little time scheduling an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once she became eligible.

Now, she’s urging Spokane residents to do the same.

The message couldn’t be more timely as recent numbers indicate Spokane is one of several counties at risk of sliding back into Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan. The vaccines have been shown to substantially reduce the risk of virus transmission and disease.

“If you can get vaccinated, get vaccinated,” Woodward told The Spokesman-Review on Thursday during a virtual Northwest Passages forum.

Northwest Passages Virtual Forum / The Spokesman-Review

The mayor discussed the county’s COVID trends with the governor’s office on Wednesday.

“There’s a number of counties across the state experiencing the same thing – Spokane County isn’t the only one – and they’re concerned about having to possibly roll back the entire state,” Woodward said. “That could be devastating.”

Cowlitz, Pierce and Whitman counties were kicked back to Phase 2 earlier this month.

Woodward noted that new COVID-19 cases have risen particularly among people 29 and younger in Spokane County.

Since April 1, nearly two-thirds of new cases have been in people younger than 40, according to Spokane Regional Health District data. The county’s increase in cases is being traced to March Madness gatherings, spring breaks and Easter celebrations in Spokane County.

Hospitalizations, which had been on a downward trajectory since the start of April, have once again begun to increase, causing additional concern.

Vaccination rates could be used to help determine reopening phases in the future, Woodward said.

As of April 19, an estimated 32.5% of Spokane County residents had received at least one dose of the vaccine, placing it behind 20 other counties in Washington, according to Department of Health data. Nearly 23% of county residents have been fully vaccinated.

“We need to get that number higher, we need more of our population vaccinated – but that only became available to everyone (16 and older) a week ago, so we need to give people time to do that,” Woodward said.

The consequences of renewed restrictions would be severe, Woodward warned, and the “fatigue has set in.”

“I think the governor and the Department of Health’s fear is if we go back, will the public still be with us? Will the public still listen to us? So again, it’s just about getting your vaccine and following your public health guidance,” Woodward said.

Woodward received the vaccine at Gonzaga University’s Martin Centre Field House, which has been the site of a clinic operated by Providence. Previously, based on her age, health, workplace and living situations, she did not qualify for the vaccine.

Woodward disclosed that she was administered a Pfizer dose but cast no aspersions on any other form of the vaccine.

The Gonzaga-Providence clinic is open to anyone in the community 16 and older every Thursday, and appointments are available online. The next clinic is on April 29.

The university plans to host the clinic every Thursday through May, assuming there is sufficient demand.

Contrary to the rush seen earlier this year, vaccine appointments are now plentiful. Officials have transitioned focus from vaccine availability to vaccine hesitancy.

CHAS Health is operating a clinic at Spokane Community College that is open to anyone 18 or older. Appointments can be made online. The clinic is currently offering the Moderna vaccine, which has been authorized for use only in people at least 18 years old.

Vaccine appointments can also be made at the Spokane Arena, which operates on Tuesdays through Saturdays. The state-operated mass vaccination clinic is now offering appointments until 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in order to accommodate those who cannot get off work until later.

To see a list of other providers and local pharmacies offering the COVID-19 vaccine in Spokane County, visit the state’s vaccine locator or call (800) 525-0127, then press #.

Staff writer Arielle Dreher contributed to this story.