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Inclement weather could delay vaccine deliveries locally and nationwide

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 16, 2021

While first doses of the coronavirus vaccine are limited this week and weather poses a delivery issue, Washington state residents might have opportunities to book appointments at Albertsons, Costco and Health Mart pharmacies, where the federal government has allocated additional doses separate from the state’s allotted shipments .

The Department of Health is keeping a list of vaccine locations offering doses in each county online, and many pharmacies are asking people to make an appointment online.

In Spokane County, 4,000 appointments opened up for first doses on Tuesday night at the Spokane Arena mass vaccination site, but those appointments will likely be scheduled further out due to weather delays.

Kelley Charvet, chief administrative officer at CHAS Health, said that the health care provider had not received the 4,000 doses on Tuesday morning, and since they were coming from Mississippi, which is experiencing the inclement weather that much of the South is seeing, CHAS expected to possibly receive those doses by Wednesday.

She said the plan was to schedule appointments at least a day further out to avoid needing to reschedule.

Weather delays will likely impact vaccine distribution statewide this week, and Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for COVID response, said Tuesday the department is expecting some shipping delays from national distributors due to winter storms.

Some vaccine clinics that were scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday have been rescheduled, she said, and some mass vaccination sites are rescheduling their appointments.

CHAS, which has been playing the lead operational role in the Arena mass vaccination site, will step back in the coming weeks, allowing the Department of Health to assume an operational role there. Charvet said CHAS will still have some staff on-site; however, the state Department of Health is taking the lead.

By letting the state take the lead on operations at the Arena, CHAS Health staff will be able to receive vaccine doses at its clinics countywide and focus on efforts to vaccinate its own patients.

More than 10,000 people have been vaccinated at the Arena in the past three weeks, and starting next week, second doses will be administered at the site, too.

It’s unclear exactly what this change-up will mean for scheduling appointments , and the Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

CHAS Health will transition out of its operational role by March 1, and Charvet said CHAS plans to share the online scheduling tool data with the department to ensure people receiving their second doses at the site will be able to do so.

“We’re ensuring that those second-dose schedules will continue so anything scheduled through our system, we’ll be providing that information to DOH so that process is smooth for people to get their second doses,” Charvet told reporters on Tuesday.

Here’s a look at local numbers:The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 107 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, and 10 additional deaths.

Since the pandemic began, 556 Spokane County residents have died from COVID-19.

There are 66 patients in Spokane County hospitals being treated for the virus.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 101 new cases on Tuesday, and two additional deaths.

There have been 249 deaths due to COVID-19 recorded among Panhandle residents.

There are 31 Panhandle residents hospitalized for COVID-19.

S-R Reporter Laurel Demkovich contributed to this report.

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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