All 4,000 of the latest first-dose coronavirus vaccine appointments available at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena were booked in 45 minutes on Tuesday night.
Those appointments start Thursday, but weather could lead to delays. As of Wednesday, the Spokane Arena site had still not received the Moderna doses they are planning to use to vaccinate people this week.
CHAS Health, which has been running the mass clinics at the arena, is receiving the doses from Mississippi. Much of the South is experiencing winter storms.
Kelley Charvet, chief administrative officer at CHAS, said they are hopeful doses will arrive Thursday but they will be monitoring the situation in order to make needed adjustments.
CHAS Health was leading operations at the mass vaccination site for the last month, but in the coming weeks will hand operational control over to the Department of Health.
These nationwide delays are affecting predominantly Moderna vaccine shipments, Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington Hospital Association, said on Wednesday.
“We’re hopeful (vaccines) might show up tonight, but there’s a ton of closed airports across the country which have been used to ship out vaccine,” she said.
Providence Health Care in Spokane had to postpone second-dose appointments at its Holy Family Hospital on Wednesday due to the weather-related delays. All appointments were rescheduled for Monday at the same time slots as individuals’ initial appointments. Providence has alerted all affected patients via email.
Similar to the arena site, if doses don’t arrive, Providence might have to reschedule Thursday’s vaccine appointments as well, and they asked people to watch their emails.
Starting next week, the Department of Health will direct scheduling operations at the arena mass vaccination site.
The department has access to the CHAS schedule, so it will know who has received their first dose at the Arena and has signed up for a second-dose appointment. Next week, the mass vaccination site will likely only administer second doses, according to local and state health officials.
Once the Department of Health assumes operations of the site, it will have set days of operation from Tuesday through Saturday. Jennifer Dixon, the arena leader with the department, said the site will eventually move to a different online scheduling tool, called PrepMod, like the other statewide mass vaccination sites.
The change in online scheduling tools has not happened yet, but the department will announce when that change is happening in the coming weeks.
Washington residents should receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the same site they got their first dose. Second doses are automatically sent to providers and sites to match their first dose allotments, making it important for people to get their second dose at the same location where they received their first dose. Additionally, people need to receive two doses of the same vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be administered with three weeks between the two doses, while the Moderna vaccine should be administered with four weeks between the two doses.
If a person goes a bit longer than the three- or four-week mark between doses, studies and vaccine manufacturers have said it won’t devalue the effectiveness of the vaccines.
“If you miss your second dose by a few days, a week or 10 days, it won’t affect the effectiveness (of the vaccines),” Interim Health Officer Francisco Velázquez told reporters Wednesday.
He said people should try to get the doses as close to three or four weeks later as possible, and he encouraged those whose appointments are rescheduled to not let that hinder them from receiving a second dose when they can.
Here’s a look at local numbers
The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 123 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and five new deaths.
There are 66 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Spokane hospitals.
The Panhandle Health District confirmed 105 new cases of the virus on Wednesday and two additional deaths.
There are 24 Panhandle residents hospitalized with COVID-19.
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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