Residents living in the Idaho Panhandle who are 16 and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting today.
The Panhandle Health District announced that providers in the five-county region are offering doses and appointments for all residents who are 16 and older, due to a decline in demand.
Health districts can opt to move through the vaccine phases at different paces in Idaho.
“After assessing the situation with our enrolled vaccine providers, we made the decision as a group to move forward in the phases,” Don Duffy, an administrator at Panhandle Health District, said in a news release. “We have the supply and available appointments, but have continued to see a decline in demand. At the end of the day, we just want to get people vaccinated who are choosing to receive a vaccine.”
This week, 6,400 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were delivered to Panhandle vaccine providers. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 16 years and older, while the Moderna vaccine is approved for people 18 years and older.
There are appointments open for next week at several providers in the Panhandle, and the district has links to appointments online. Idaho residents can also use the state scheduling tool to make an appointment at covidvaccine.idaho.gov.
Panhandle residents without internet access can call the health district at (877) 415-5225 to schedule an appointment.
The Panhandle has opened up vaccine eligibility ahead of other regions in Idaho.
Starting April 5, all Idaho residents who are 16 and older will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Brad Little announced on Wednesday.
Currently, all essential workers and all residents over the age of 55 are eligible to receive one of the three vaccines available.
Starting March 29, any Idaho resident with one medical condition that puts them at high risk for developing severe disease with COVID-19 will also be eligible.
“I want to thank the close to 390,000 Idahoans who have chosen to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. You have taken one of the most important steps during our pandemic fight to protect lives and get us closer to normal. Hundreds of thousands of Idahoans have received the vaccine because it is safe and it works,” Little said in a news release. “If you are still unsure about the vaccine, I encourage you to talk to your doctor or health care provider. There are good reasons most of them did not hesitate to receive their COVID vaccine weeks ago – the COVID vaccine has been tested and it is proving to be safe and effective.”
Vaccine demand, limited supply remain in Spokane County
In Washington, vaccines will likely not open up to everyone 16 and older until a later date. President Joe Biden has set May 1 as the date for when states should be able to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults. There is more demand in Washington, however, which necessitates phases.
Currently, about 40 providers in Spokane County are consistently receiving COVID-19 vaccine doses, according to the Spokane Regional Health District, despite more than 100 facilities locally signed up to distribute vaccine doses.
Appointments continue to fill up quickly, and Kayla Myers, the district vaccine task force leader, said there was a surge in demand when more people became eligible to get vaccinated in Washington last week, including certain high-risk essential workers and pregnant women.
Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez told reporters that while Spokane County is not seeing an uptick in virus cases in young people, as in King County, he encourages the community to stay vigilant, especially with the move to Phase 3.
The current phase allows gatherings of 10 people or less indoors and 50% capacity in restaurants, bars and retail stores.
“We do know as we start to have more people back in school and more activities in Phase 3, the younger groups tend to be more mobile and socially active,” Velázquez said. “And we ask them to be careful, follow the guidance, wear your mask and be mindful of how you congregate and spend time with others.”
A look at local numbersThe Panhandle Health District confirmed 27 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and no additional deaths.
There are 17 Panhandle residents hospitalized with COVID-19.
The Spokane Regional Health District detected discrepancies in Wednesday’s data and was unable to provide an accurate number of cases, hospitalizations and new deaths reported Wednesday.
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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