If you’ve called various clinics trying to get in line for a COVID-19 vaccine all to no avail, you are not alone.
Spokane County vaccine distributors are still working through the first phase of those eligible for vaccines: health care workers and first responders.
This means that the limited leftover doses will not be nearly enough to cover Washington residents over the age of 65 now eligible for the vaccine, in addition to those over the age of 50 who live in multigenerational households (which does not include parents with children in the house).
“While you may qualify right now there may or may not be a vaccine available for you immediately, so we have to be mindful of that,” Interim Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez said on Wednesday.
Thus far, 21,307 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Spokane County, according to state data.
There are still health care workers and first responders signing up for appointments here, however, and while some rural counties might be able to vaccinate residents over the age of 65 faster, in Spokane County, that process will take time.
“There are still a number of Phase 1A individuals that are still signing up for appointments that are available, so I think as soon as we work through that backlog, we will be opening up a lot more guidance and directions for phase 1B individuals,” said Kayla Myers, who is leading the Spokane Regional Health District’s vaccine task force.
Some organizations are allowing people to sign up for appointments on a case-by-case basis, but not all providers listed as offering vaccines actually have doses. Myers said the list of vaccine distributors, which people are directed to after using the state’s Phase Finder, was created using information from surveys submitted by vaccine distributors, which has led to some frustrating phone calls for local residents trying to get vaccines. Not all clinics on the state list are offering vaccines to the public if a person is not already a patient, Myers said.
The health district is now in conversations with state health officials about plans to open up a mass vaccination site at the Spokane Arena next week, which could primarily serve those eligible for the vaccine who are unable to get an appointment currently or who do not have a health care provider who can vaccinate them.
There are not enough vaccine doses in the state currently, or allotted to come to Washington distributors in the coming weeks, to vaccinate everyone who is eligible. Myers said she anticipates that doses coming to Spokane County will continue to go to large “throughput sites,” as well as the new mass vaccination clinic once it is operational. Currently, vaccine distributors in Spokane County are using at least 80% of their allocated doses each week, Myers said.
As of Tuesday, Washington health officials still estimated that our state’s weekly allotment is about 100,000 vaccine doses, which will go to multiple sites in many counties statewide. There are more than 1 million Washington residents now eligible for the vaccine.
Myers said she knows it is frustrating for residents looking to get vaccinated with no luck, and noted that when more appointments open up, providers and the health district will work to communicate exactly how Spokane County residents can get signed up. Until then, the message continues to be: “the supply is not quite there yet,” Myers said.
Locally, there have been some potentially positive signs in COVID-19 activity, and Velázquez said he is cautiously optimistic that the county is beginning to see less severe spikes in case counts and transmission.
On Wednesday, the district confirmed 107 new cases, the lowest daily case count in January. There have been 31,120 confirmed cases in Spokane County since the pandemic began. The health district confirmed one more death on Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 to 451.
There are 107 COVID-19 patients in Spokane County hospitals being treated for the virus.
The Panhandle Health District confirmed 141 new cases on Wednesday and no additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the five-county region appear to be declining in recent days. There are 64 residents from the region hospitalized with the virus, and 53 of them are at Kootenai Health.
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.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.