Despite the expanded eligibility, vaccine appointments still appear relatively easy to get
VANCOUVER — Starting today, more than 31,000 additional people in Clark County, and more than 740,000 statewide, are now eligible to receive their first dose of any available COVID-19 vaccine.
Moving to Tier 2 of Phase 1B means more than three million people in Washington state are now eligible to be vaccinated. The newest group includes mainly people who work in congregate settings, such as grocery stores, agriculture, food processing, mass transit, corrections and law enforcement.
The phase also includes anyone over the age of 16 who is pregnant, or has a disability that puts them at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Anyone wondering if they qualify in the current phase can fill out the state’s Phase Finder tool online in order to determine when they’ll be eligible, and register to be notified.
One industry left out of the latest phase are restaurant employees, who will be working with extra unmasked customers indoors starting March 22, when the state moves to Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan, which allows up to 50 percent capacity for dine-in service.
Health officials also noted that anyone previously eligible can still get vaccinated if they choose to do so. That includes frontline medical workers, some first responders who deal with potential COVID patients, people over age 65 (or 50 and older in multigenerational households), pre-K and K-12 public school employees, and licensed child care providers.
As of March 13, the state’s Vaccine data dashboard showed over 2.4 million total doses of vaccine administered to date, with just under 21 percent having received a first dose, while 12 percent of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated.
That includes an estimated 66.3 percent of those over age 65 who have received at least a single dose, with 40.6 percent of that population fully vaccinated.
In Clark County, 17.8 percent of the population has initiated vaccination, while 8.4 percent are fully vaccinated.
That could at least partially explain recent trends which have seen daily new cases plateau over the past several weeks, even as hospitalizations and deaths continue relatively steep declines statewide.
As of March 13, the state’s 7-day average of hospitalizations for people with a confirmed COVID-19 case had fallen to 33, down from more than 120 in early January, and deaths had fallen to fewer than seven per day as of late February (death reports are often delayed due to the processing of death certificates).
Vaccine supplies increasing
Clark County’s allocation of COVID-19 vaccines continued to climb this week, with an estimated 17,701 first doses being sent from the state, along with 6,850 second doses. This is in addition to allocations from the Federal Pharmacy Program, which are being used at the Tower Mall community vaccination site, and the doses at the Clark County Fairgrounds mass vaccination site, which is run by the state Department of Health.
Pharmacies participating in the Federal Pharmacy Partner program include:
- Albertsons Companies, Inc.
- Costco Wholesale Corp.
- Health Mart Pharmacies
- Kroger Co.
- Rite Aid Pharmacies
- Walmart, Inc.
On Wednesday, Clark County Public Health announced that their COVID-19 vaccine waitlist had essentially shrunk to zero, and that all appointments at the Tower Mall vaccination site will be open to anyone who qualifies.
The site still requires an appointment to receive a vaccination. As of Wednesday afternoon slots were still available for all four upcoming days, including Friday and Saturday, as well as next Monday and Tuesday. Further details can be found on the county’s COVID-19 vaccination information website.
PeaceHealth Southwest also announced this week that it will be opening vaccine appointments for eligible individuals at its clinics in Longview, Woodland, Vancouver and Camas.
No doses wasted at Fairgrounds site
On Tuesday, rumors spread online that the Clark County Fairgrounds vaccination site had extra doses that would go to waste if people didn’t show up by 4:45 p.m., and that they were giving away doses to anyone regardless of eligibility.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health says those rumors were untrue, and that the site allocates doses carefully depending on the number of appointments that day. Any unused doses could be re-sealed and used the following day.