The majority of vaccine doses set to be delivered to providers in Washington this week have not arrived due to severe weather across the country.
The federal government coordinates delivery schedules, and doses arriving from parts of the country hit hard by winter weather and power outages have been delayed.
Doses scheduled to arrive at the Spokane Arena were coming from Mississippi, and they have yet to be shipped, local site coordinators said.
“We don’t have a way to anticipate when (doses) will arrive,” said Jennifer Dixon, with the Department of Health.
About 1,200 people will be vaccinated by the end of Thursday, after CHAS Health was able to use its remaining backup doses to cover those first-dose appointments.
The approximately 2,800 people who scheduled appointments at the Arena for Friday and Saturday will have to wait until next week, however.
Those people will receive an email or text message with a new date and time to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
New first-dose appointments will be spread throughout next week, local organizers said.
Michele Roberts, assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health, told reporters that the agency estimates about 90% of the doses expected to be delivered in the state have been delayed. She said Moderna vaccines have not yet shipped due to weather and that Pfizer doses are limited this week.
Everyone who had a confirmed appointment at the Spokane Arena still will have that opportunity, just later next week due to the weather delays.
At the Spokane Arena, Department of Health staff also are rescheduling residents who signed up for second-dose appointments early next week.
Residents with vaccine appointments on Sunday and Monday will receive calls from the Department of Health to reschedule those appointments as well for later next week when the site is set to open. The Arena site will be open from Tuesday through Saturday going forward.
Department of Health staff are making these calls directly to patients and will know the date and time of a person’s original appointment. Staff will ask about a person’s birthday to confirm their identity, as well as ask for an email address to send updated appointment information. Department of Health Staff will not ask for personal health or financial information.
Those concerned about verifying their rescheduled appointment can call the state COVID-19 hotline at (800) 525-0127.
No new appointments will be available at the Spokane Arena next week, as the department focuses on administering second doses, in addition to catching up on first doses missed on Friday and Saturday.
Dixon said she is optimistic that Moderna will deliver doses to the Arena on Monday to get vaccinations back on schedule.
Statewide, the Department of Health expects to receive more vaccine doses next week than in previous weeks, although second-dose requests will take priority. Washington is scheduled to receive 263,570 doses next week, which is still significantly fewer than the 436,720 doses requested.
The new federal pharmacy program, which sends doses directly to pharmacies and is not a part of the state allocation, is expanding, which could increase first doses available statewide next week.
The program will double in size, adding some Walmart, Rite Aid, Fred Meyer and QFC pharmacies to the list of Safeway, Albertsons, Costco and Health Mart pharmacies offering the vaccine statewide. The Department of Health has a vaccine locator tool, which lists available sites to find a dose in your county.
Washington health officials are directing vaccine doses to counties with larger populations in the coming weeks to prioritize health care workers, first responders, residents 65 or older or 50 and older in multigenerational households.
Roberts told reporters the state has not met its goal of vaccinating 50% of the current tier in the state’s phased vaccine plan.
“We still have work to do over at least the next couple of weeks to make sure everyone has access,” she said at a news conference Thursday. “We’re focusing on that for now before we determine when we move (to the next tier).”
The latest local numbers
The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 110 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and three additional deaths.
There have been 564 deaths due to COVID-19 confirmed in Spokane County.
There are 71 patients with the virus hospitalized in Spokane.
The Panhandle Health District confirmed 40 new cases on Thursday and one death.
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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