Tower Mall vaccination site reopening Friday as Clark County vaccine supplies keep growing

The county is receiving nearly 15,000 first doses this week, in addition to doses administered at the Tower Mall site and the Clark County Fairgrounds

VANCOUVER — A community vaccination site in the parking lot of the Tower Mall site in Vancouver will reopen this coming Friday.

Clark County Public Health made the announcement Wednesday, adding that the number of people who will be able to receive a vaccination will increase from 600 per day, to 840.

The community vaccination site in the Tower Mall parking lot will open again next Friday. Photo by Mike Schultz
The community vaccination site in the Tower Mall parking lot will open again next Friday. Photo by Mike Schultz

The site, located at 5403 East Mill Plain Boulevard, is a collaborative effort between Clark County Public Health, the city of Vancouver, and Safeway pharmacies. Doses administered at the site are coming through the Federal Pharmacy Program, rather from the state of Washington.

It was open last Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, administering 2,400 total doses. The site will be open the same days this week and next, with the goal of administering 3,360 COVID-19 vaccine doses.

The county will continue contacting people on their COVID-19 vaccine waitlist to offer them a slot, then open any available appointments to people who qualify starting on Thursday.

The latest vaccine rollout plan from the Washington Department of Health. Image courtesy Washington DOH
The latest vaccine rollout plan from the Washington Department of Health. Image courtesy Washington DOH

During a Board of Public Health meeting on Wednesday morning, Clark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick noted that the county’s vaccine waitlist had reached 58,691 requests, but only 4,559 of those people remained.

“We’ve gone through that waiting list pretty significantly,” Melnick said, adding that another 8.4 percent of people on the list had been contacted, but had already received a first dose elsewhere.

The county’s allocation of vaccines has also increased significantly from late February when CCPH and other elected officials went public with analysis showing Clark County was lagging far behind other counties in terms of supply.

Last week, Clark County received 14,140 first doses of vaccine. That number jumped to 14,907 this week, up from a weekly average of 4,175 first doses prior to this month.

“So in two weeks, we basically got 20,000 more doses of vaccine than we would have gotten if we (still) had the old allocation going on,” said Melnick.

As of this past Saturday, a total of 80,263 vaccine doses had been administered in Clark County, including 32,824 residents who have been fully vaccinated.

“There is some delay in the data,” noted Melnick, “so the numbers are undoubtedly higher than that.”

One other improvement Melnick said he would like to see from the state is more long-range information on what vaccine shipments will look like.

Currently, the county is informed only a few days in advance how much will be sent from the state. 

“It’s been difficult,” Melnick told the board. “We are looking towards a schedule where there’s three weeks of allotment instead of every week.”

The state is aware of how much vaccine allocation will be sent from the federal government three weeks in advance. 

Washington’s Department of Health has been releasing three-week forecasts for vaccine shipments since mid-February. As of last week the state anticipated receiving 163,600 first doses each of the next three weeks, along with 146,110 second doses (increasing to 163,600 second doses by the week of March 21).

Johnson & Johnson shipments delayed

Washington received 60,900 doses of the one-shot COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson which was approved at the start of last week, but is not expecting any further shipments until the week of March 21.

Melnick called that vaccine a potential “game changer.”

While it tested as slightly less effective than the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, trials were also done on a larger basis, during a difficult time in the pandemic, and in regions where mutations of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus were emerging.

“All these vaccines are better than the number I’ve seen with a flu vaccine,” Melnick said. “Really, any of these vaccines become available for anyone, whether it be Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson, I would get any one of those.”

Fairgrounds open to first doses again

In addition to the Tower Mall site and increased supply going to local providers and mobile vaccination clinics, Melnick said the Clark County Fairgrounds mass vaccination site, which is run by the state, also reopened to first dose appointments for the first time in three weeks.

Another sign that supply is leveling up to meet demand in the region, Melnick noted, was that appointment slots at the Fairgrounds didn’t fill up until Tuesday morning.

“Usually it was within minutes,” said Melnick. “That’s not happening anymore.”

For more information about local COVID-19 vaccination efforts and to submit a request for COVID-19 vaccine, visit the Clark County Public Health COVID-19 vaccine webpage or call 888-225-4625. The Public Health call center operates 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.