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Spokane Arena mass vaccination site will close at end of day Thursday

UPDATED: Thu., June 17, 2021

After nearly six months in operation, the mass vaccination site at the Spokane Arena will close after its final appointment at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Earlier this year, the Arena had to screen people for eligibility, cap appointment slots and, at one point, was administering just under 1,800 doses in a single day.

On Wednesday, fewer than 20 people had made appointments to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but by 4:30 p.m., about a dozen more had walked up to get vaccinated.

With the Arena site closing, walk-up appointments will still be available to Spokane County residents at several local pharmacies, including all Safeway-Albertsons locations.

The Spokane Arena site stopped administering the Moderna vaccine about a month ago, switching to single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Anyone who received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the Arena who hasn’t received a second dose has been booked for a second dose at a local pharmacy, said Chris Greiner, one of the pharmacists on site.

The Spokane Arena is the last mass vaccination site run by the Department of Health to close in the state.

The site had provided 75,592 vaccinations as of Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the Arena hosted its last Happy Hour event geared toward getting young adults vaccinated.

The site was initially run by CHAS, then the Department of Health, the National Guard and Safeway-Albertsons took over.

By Saturday, the vaccine vials will be out of the beer coolers, and the Spokane Shock will play at the Arena.

For the team of pharmacists, National Guard members and state health workers, collaboration was key.

“I never would have imagined being a part of something like this,” Greiner said.

“I’m humbled by the amount of help that our team was willing to give and to work – almost everyone here was working overtime.”

He said his team couldn’t have done it without the help of the other organizations involved.

Greiner said vaccination now will be about offering an opportunity for people who are interested in grocery stores and pharmacies. Safeway-Albertsons teams can also offer mobile vaccine clinics, much like the local and state health departments.

“The closing of the mass vaccination site may have a slight impact (on vaccination efforts),” Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez said on Wednesday.

He also said there is a transition underway, getting COVID-19 vaccines into primary care clinics as well as offering vaccine clinics at businesses, events and in pharmacies.

While Washington state is still on track to fully open by the end of the month, Spokane County continues to lag.

As of Wednesday, 67% of Washington residents 16 and over have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including those who were vaccinated by the Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs.

In Spokane County, a little more than 51% of residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This number might be slightly higher if the Department of Defense and VA vaccinations are included.

Here’s a look at local numbers:

The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 37 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and three additional deaths.

There have been 658 deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County residents.

There are 50 patients hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 20 new cases and no additional deaths on Wednesday.

There are 27 Panhandle residents hospitalized.

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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