Local clinic and fire district prepare to offer Covid-19 vaccinations

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The process to allow the Point Roberts health clinic to begin administering Covid-19 vaccines is nearing the final stages, according to the district. Addressing commissioners at their regular monthly Zoom meeting on January 13, SuperTrack’s Alexandra Wiley said equipment needed to calibrate the clinic’s freezer would arrive on January 20. Five days of calibration would complete the clinic’s application to become an enrolled provider. The application would then need to be approved by the state department of health.

SuperTrack’s Dr. Mae Lary told commissioners that information about the vaccine “trickles out on a daily basis,” adding, “We can only predict what will happen in the next few days. What we have heard is that when the vaccines come in, it will first be distributed to big pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens. By the time it reaches the pharmacies will be the time when the clinic is approved.”

Dr. Lary also reported that the clinic was now operating on a five-day a week schedule and that it was being favorably viewed by patients. The clinic is staffed with a physician’s assistant as well as Dr. Lary and Dr. Sean Bozorgzadeh three days a week and telemedicine two days a week.

In a January 13 email to fire chief Christopher Carleton, Whatcom Unified Command planning section chief Liz Coogan wrote, “Having an enrolled provider in your community is a great step forward.” Carleton has been campaigning to have Point Roberts receive the vaccine at the earliest possible date and has suggested a mass inoculation process given the unique circumstances of the Point.

Whatcom County is in Phase 1a of the state’s vaccination plan, which means high-risk healthcare workers, high-risk first responders, long-term care facility residents and at-risk healthcare workers are eligible for the vaccine, according to Washington State Department of Health (DOH) guidelines. An estimated 14,000 to 16,000 people are in Phase 1a Tier 1, not including those in long-term care facilities, according to the county health department website.

Phase 1b will begin once everyone in phase 1a has been vaccinated. Phase 1b Tier 1 will be the next group to be vaccinated, expected in late January, with everyone 70 years old or older, and 50 years old or older who live in multigenerational households.

Next, those in Phase 1b Tier 2 are expected to be vaccinated in February, with high-risk essential workers 50 years and older who work in populated workspaces, such as schools, grocery stores, the Whatcom County Jail, food processing facilities, public transit, firefighters and law enforcement.

People in Phase 1b Tier 3, which is people 16 years old or older with two or more underlying health conditions, are expected to be vaccinated in March.

Phase 1b Tier 4 vaccinations are set to be administered in April, with high-risk essential workers in congregate settings who are younger than 50 years old, as well as all people in congregate living facilities such as the Whatcom County Jail and shelters for people experiencing housing insecurity.

By the end of the week on January 8, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Hospital had administered nearly 3,000 Pfizer doses, including 300 second doses, to its hospital employees and community providers, said PeaceHealth spokesperson Hilary Andrade. As of January 11, the hospital had received 4,875 Pfizer doses, which it receives in weekly shipments. The hospital is administering around 250 doses daily, Andrade said.

PeaceHealth Medical Group’s Cordata Clinic had vaccinated nearly 550 community healthcare workers and EMS personnel by January 11, using the Moderna vaccine provided by the Whatcom County Health Department, Andrade said. The PeaceHealth Medical Group first received the Moderna doses on December 28 and receives about 400 doses weekly. By the end of January, over 1,000 doses of Moderna are expected to be administered at the clinic, Andrade said.

Good Samaritan Society – Stafholt will begin Covid-19 vaccine distributions to about 80 of its nursing home residents and staff on Tuesday, January 19. Vaccinations will come from a federal program that allows Walgreens pharmacy to administer the vaccine at the nursing home.

The vaccine will be administered for free to anyone, including those without health insurance. The county health department is unable to report total vaccination numbers due to data being reported directly to the state, but officials are working to share numbers as soon as possible, according to the health department's website.

On January 11, a DOH news release announced it began alerting everyone who tests positive for Covid-19 through a text notification, in addition to receiving a notification from the facility where they took the test. The goal of the text is for WA Notify users t0 alert others of potential exposure faster through the anonymous exposure notification tool that alerts people’s phones when they’ve come in contact with someone whose tested positive for Covid-19, according to the release.

For more information, visit the county’s vaccine webpage at bit.ly/3qr0aBl.

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