Department of Health warns mass vaccination plan will be a slow ramp-up

Appointment slots for Clark County Fairgrounds site already full for this week

Even before the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the Clark County Fairgrounds was officially announced, all of the appointment slots for this week had been filled.

Eagle-eyed Internet users spotted the Ridgefield location on the Department of Health (DOH) website Sunday, with a link to sign up for one of the few initial spots. By Sunday afternoon, most people clicking on the appointment link found no dates available.

“Washingtonians should not be discouraged,” DOH said in a press release Monday morning. “Sites will eventually have the capacity for larger numbers of people as more vaccine becomes available.”

The Clark County Fairgrounds will be the site of a mass vaccination clinic for SW Washington, but initial appointments will be hard to come by. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Clark County Fairgrounds will be the site of a mass vaccination clinic for SW Washington, but initial appointments will be hard to come by. Photo by Mike Schultz

DOH said the initial goal is to be able to provide approximately 500 vaccinations per site, per day, but the initial amount will be less, “as sites ramp up to that goal and beyond.”

Clark County’s mass vaccination site will be using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which will arrive today and take time to thaw, which is why the site won’t start putting doses in arms until tomorrow.

“As our vaccine allocations increase, these sites will provide additional capacity to get people vaccinated quickly and efficiently across the state,” said Washington Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD. “With much less supply of vaccine than people currently eligible, it is going to take time which will require patience from all of us. I want to thank our partners who are working together to help us build the infrastructure needed to reach our goal of 45,000 vaccinations a day.”

On Sunday, Clark County Public Health noted that their plans, in cooperation with health departments in Cowlitz and Skamania counties, as well as a Federal Emergency Management Administration Type 1 incident management team, are still working on plans for more community vaccination sites and mobile vaccine clinics.

So far, over 18,000 people have registered on the county’s website to be notified when they can receive a vaccine dose from a local healthcare provider, including PeaceHealth Southwest, Legacy Salmon Creek, The Vancouver Clinic, and Sea Mar Community Health Centers. 

As of Monday morning, Sea Mar, which is accepting walk-in vaccinations until 3 p.m. each day, said they had used all available vaccines until more arrive later this week.

Clark County Public Health is encouraging people who qualify to receive a vaccine to register both on their website, as well as continuing to check for any available appointments through the state’s system.

Currently, the state is in Phase 1B, Tier 1, which includes frontline healthcare workers, many first responders, as well as anyone over age 65, or 50 and older for people living in multigenerational households.

If you’re uncertain whether you qualify, the state’s Phase Finder page can help, though that site currently does not allow you to sign up to be notified when you can receive a vaccine.

Most area hospitals are urging you to use one of those website, rather than calling or showing up to see if the vaccine is available. For the moment, nearly all providers are administering vaccinations by prior appointment only.


About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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