When eligibility changes on Thursday, anyone who is 16 years or older can schedule an appointment
VANCOUVER – Clark County residents seeking a first-dose vaccination appointment will have upcoming opportunities as Washington state approaches Thursday’s expansion of eligibility.
The COVID-19 vaccination site at Tower Mall will have more than 4,000 first-dose appointments available in the coming week. The site currently operates four days a week – Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday – and will have about 1,000 first-dose appointments available for each of those days.
When eligibility changes on Thursday, anyone who is 16 years or older can schedule an appointment at the Tower Mall site. Once eligible, minors can be vaccinated at the Tower Mall site if their consent form is signed by a parent or guardian.
“The allocation of vaccines in Clark County continues to be good,’’ said Clark County Public Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick during the Board of Health meeting Wednesday morning. “As far as I’ve heard, people aren’t having any difficulty getting appointments.’’
Melnick said that during the first 11 weeks of vaccination efforts in Clark County, an average of 4,175 first doses were administered each week. Over the past six weeks, an average of 13,980 doses have been administered each week. Friday marks the beginning of the seventh week for vaccinations at the Tower Mall site.
In addition to those state allocations, Melnick reported that local pharmacies have been getting over 10,000 doses of the vaccine each week directly from the federal government. He said a total of 210,724 doses have been administered in Clark County, where 143,941 residents have had at least a first dose (29 percent) and 94,848 residents (19 percent) are fully vaccinated.
“We’re still behind other counties (in the state), but we’re making up ground,’’ Melnick said.
Despite Melnick’s comments Wednesday, Kaiser Permanente reported that for the week of April 12, vaccine supply for its medical offices is very limited. If you are currently eligible, you can now check for appointment availability near you and schedule online at kp.org.
On Tuesday, the Washington State Department of Health paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to six cases of severe reactions to that vaccine. None of the vaccines, which came from 6.8 million total Johnson & Johnson doses administered, were known to be Washington residents. The county will continue to provide the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Clark County metrics
Melnick joined state officials Wednesday in warning area residents of increasing rates of COVID-19 infections.
“We have some concerns,’’ Melnick said. “Rates are going up nationally, statewide and in Clark County and Southwest Washington.’’
Melnick said the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a 3.3 percent increase in cases and more than a 6 percent increase in hospitalizations. He said there is a 5.2 percent decrease in deaths due to COVID-19, likely attributed to the fact that most of the elderly population has now been vaccinated.
“In Washington state, cases began increasing in late March,’’ said Melnick, who indicated the third wave of increased cases plateaued in mid-February. He said that Clark, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties have experienced the greatest increases and the sharpest increases are among people ages 10-49. Melnick said hospital admissions statewide have been flat since the middle of March.
In Clark County, there were more than 50 new cases each day over the weekend and 76 new cases on Monday.
Clark County is currently in Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan. On Monday three counties — Cowlitz, Pierce and Whitman — were moved back to Phase 2. There are two metrics the state uses to determine which phase of the reopening plan each county is in: new COVID cases per 100,000 population over 14 days; and new COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 population per seven days. Initially, each county was required to meet both metrics. However, on Friday, the governor reduced that to saying each county needs to pass just one of the two metrics.
To remain in Phase 3, Clark County needs to have no more than 200 new cases per 100,000 residents. Currently, the county is at 139.8. On Tuesday, the county was at 4.3 percent hospitalizations. Any counties that fail both metrics on May 3 will be moved back to Phase 2 on May 7.
Scheduling an appointment
Those who do not have internet access or need help scheduling an appointment can call Public Health at (888) 225-4625. Call center representatives can assist with scheduling, and language assistance is available.
The Tower Mall site is administering Pfizer vaccine. Second-dose appointments will automatically be scheduled for three weeks later at the same time, day of the week and location. Those scheduling appointments are asked to ensure the time and day of week they select will work for their first- and second-dose appointments. Vaccines are free.
The vaccination site operates 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and offers drive-thru and walk-up options in the Tower Mall parking lot, 5403 E. Mill Plain Blvd. Those with appointments should arrive at the site at their appointment time. Arriving before the scheduled appointment time could lead to traffic backups and longer wait times.
Drivers should enter the site off North Blandford Drive between MacArthur Boulevard and Mill Plain Boulevard and exit onto North Devine Road. Walk-up patients will enter the site off East Mill Plain Boulevard between Blandford Road and North Devine Road. Follow the directional signs for COVID-19 vaccine.
The Tower Mall vaccination site is a collaboration between Clark County Public Health, the city of Vancouver and Safeway. The site opened on March 5 and has administered about 20,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines and how to access vaccine appointments, visit the Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine webpage.
Clark Co. WA Communications provided information for this report.