It’s like eating an elephant one bite at a time.
That’s how Mike Lopez, the man helping to steer free vaccine clinics at Spokane fire stations, looks at the results of his efforts in recent weeks.
Up to Wednesday, the Spokane Fire Department had held five clinics at three fire stations this month, administering 106 doses thus far. That’s about 20 people per clinic, about 40% of whom have been between the ages of 12 and 18.
“Based on my conversations with colleagues at (Spokane) Regional Health, Providence, and Multicare, they’re seeing a similar pattern. We’re not seeing hundreds of people, we’re seeing bits and pieces,” said Lopez, who is the Spokane Fire Department’s medical services director.
The fire station vaccine clinics were funded when the Spokane City Council appropriated $500,000 of the city’s $81 million portion of American Rescue Plan toward a local vaccination program.
The funding was championed by Councilwoman Candace Mumm, who has pressed city government to play a more direct role in the COVID-19 recovery. Mumm told The Spokesman-Review she’s pleased with the progress of the vaccine clinics, particularly in vaccinating young people whose lives have been set back and disrupted by the pandemic.
“I think it’s a great start, and they turned this program around in a very short time frame so we didn’t have a lot of time to put the word out,” Mumm said. “I think it’s building, and we’ve definitely spread the word in the neighborhoods.”
Fire stations are perceived in the community as safe havens, Lopez noted, and health officials hope to take advantage of that.
“We can kind of cast that net and kind of get folks who maybe are reluctant to go elsewhere,” Lopez said.
The clinics are being held at three stations, one in each City Council district, and offer a choice of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two-dose Pfizer vaccine, depending on age and eligibility.
Clinics are scheduled through the end of the month and more are expected in July, at least to provide second doses.
The full schedule of clinics can be found at the Spokane Regional Health District’s website, https://srhd.org/events. Appointments can be made in advance but are not necessary.
The next clinic will be held Monday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Spokane Fire Department Station 8 on 1608 N. Rebecca St., just east of the Spokane Community College campus.
Clinics are also scheduled at Station 9, at 1722 S. Bernard St. on the South Hill, and Station 17 at 5121 W. Lowell Ave. in the northwestern corner of the city.
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