Why aren’t there more appointments available?
The number of people who are currently eligible to be vaccinated far exceeds the amount of vaccine available. The limited supply and unpredictable nature of vaccine shipments make it challenging for facilities to schedule appointments far into the future. Facilities often don’t know how much vaccine they are going to receive until a few days before it arrives. Most facilities wait to schedule appointments until they know how much vaccine they will receive. As vaccine supply increases and the amount of vaccine distributed to local facilities and vaccination sites becomes more predictable, we’ll see vaccine appointments more readily available. Even if you are eligible right now, it might be several weeks to a couple of months before you are vaccinated.
When will we be able to schedule appointments further into the future?
Probably very soon. The state Department of Health has received its first notice of a three-week allocation plan, meaning the state will know how much vaccine it will get for the coming three weeks. The Department of Health is now developing a multiweek strategy that will help with consistency and predictability for medical providers and the public. The new allocation plan should be in place soon, according to the Department of Health, and you will be able to schedule vaccination appointments three weeks in advance.
If I have filled out the county’s request form for a vaccine, what will happen when it’s my turn to be vaccinated? Will the county call me or email me to help me set up a vaccination appointment?
Clark County Public Health is referring people who submit request forms to local health care facilities with COVID-19 vaccine, as vaccine supply allows. A local health care facility will contact you to schedule an appointment. Due to the large number of requests and the limited vaccine supply, it may take several weeks before you are contacted to schedule an appointment.
If I have already gotten vaccinated and I signed up to be on the county’s wait list, is there a way to withdraw my name from the wait list?
No, there is not a way to remove your name from the referral list, so you will be contacted by a local facility to schedule an appointment. When that happens, please let the facility know that you have already been vaccinated and no longer need an appointment.
If people can’t get a vaccination at the mass vaccination site, and they have filled out the county’s wait list form, what other options are available for vaccination?
There are roughly a dozen local pharmacies where you can get vaccinated. The best resource to help you find locations is the state Department of Health website. While these locations are offering vaccinations, the supply is generally very low and it is difficult to schedule an appointment.
Is anywhere offering walk-up vaccinations?
Sea Mar is offering walk-up vaccination clinics at its Battle Ground, Delaware, East Vancouver, Salmon Creek and Fourth Plain locations. Sea Mar is generally made aware of its vaccine allocation on Friday, but it needs a few days to figure out how many of those doses will be reserved as second doses. That means Sea Mar generally gives public notice about vaccine availability on Monday or Tuesday evening on its website. The vaccine is given out on a first-come, first-serve basis, and open to the community. Vaccine supply goes fast. Some people have been lining up as early as 4:30 a.m. to get vaccinated.
What is the best time for me to check with a local pharmacy to see if I can schedule an appointment?
The state and the counties get notice on vaccine allocation toward the end of each week. If you have a nearby local pharmacy, it would probably be best to check with them on Sunday evening or Monday. Appointments are likely to go fast.
Can I sign up with my medical provider to get a vaccine from them?
You can check with your primary care physician to see if their medical system is offering vaccine to patients. Right now, with supply so low, many medical providers are still vaccinating staff and may not have many appointments available for the general public. It’s important that you check directly with your primary care providers office, because some local hospitals have been overwhelmed by phone inquiries about vaccination.
When will more large-scale vaccination sites open up in Clark County? What is the county working on?
Clark County Public Health is working with private partners and an incident management team to create mobile vaccine clinics and large-scale vaccination sites. Recently, this work culminated in a mobile vaccine clinic that inoculated 930 people in long-term care facilities in Clark and Cowlitz counties. Clark County Public Health intends to open additional vaccination sites as vaccine supply increases. While the wait might be frustrating, it does mean the county should have infrastructure in place for more appointments, once the supply meets demand.
In what ways is Clark County prioritizing at-risk populations for COVID-19, such as those who are more impacted because of race/ethnicity or people who are eligible because of their age but also have underlying health conditions?
The Washington State Department of Health determines prioritization for the vaccine, but Clark County Public Health is working to make COVID-19 vaccine more accessible to high-risk populations within the state’s framework. The vaccination sites the county is developing (mobile and fixed location) are intended to be positioned near residents who have not been able to easily access vaccine and among communities and populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, such as communities of color and critical workers in congregate settings. The first example of these was the recent mobile clinic for senior care facilities. Clark County Public Health intends to open additional sites as vaccine supply allows.
How does the state decide which providers get vaccine?
Each week, the federal government allocates vaccine to Washington for the following week. The state Department of Health is responsible for deciding who will receive vaccine. Local health care facilities, pharmacies and vaccination sites request the amount of vaccine they would like to receive each week. The state looks at those requests and the amount of vaccine coming from the federal government and decides how to divvy up the vaccine. The state considers a variety of factors, including: proportional population of those eligible in the county, data from providers, providers’ current vaccine inventory and documented throughput (how much they can administer), equity, and access at all provider types (hospitals, pharmacies, mass vaccination sites and clinics).
On average, how much vaccine does Clark County request per week? How much vaccine is Clark County generally given per week?
Let’s look at the week of Feb. 1, last week. That week, the state requested 358,000 first vaccine doses from the federal government. The state makes that request after surveying every hospital, pharmacy, mass vaccination site and clinic certified to dole out vaccine. That means the state believes providers have the capacity to administer 358,000 vaccines per week. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Washington only received 107,000 doses from the federal government, due to limited vaccine supply. In that same week, starting Feb. 1, the county was allocated 5,450 doses, most of which went to the mass vaccine site. For the last several weeks, Clark County has ranged between 1,500 doses allocated to 3,700 doses. Allocation has gone up slightly recently, but Clark County has more than 89,000 people who are 65 and older and eligible for vaccination, and that’s just one of the many groups who are currently eligible. According to data released Wednesday, the state will receive 206,125 vaccine doses from the federal government. That’s about a 100,000-dose increase from the week of Feb. 1, but less than the 446,850 requested from the federal government.
Absolutely. As the pandemic has gone on, COVID-19 has proven to be more of a mutator than originally thought. In recent months, more virulent variations of COVID-19 have emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Both variants have now been spotted in the U.S. The available vaccines have proven to still be effective against the mutations, but less effective, particularly in regard to the South African variation. While COVID-19 case counts are declining nationally right now, infections are still higher than they were for most of 2020, and the more infections there are, the more likely it is that the virus will continue to mutate and possibly make the vaccines less effective.
Who will be eligible for vaccination next?
You can learn more about Washington’s vaccination plan. Washington is expected to move into its next tier of vaccination — Phase 1B Tier 2 — by the spring. That tier will be for high-risk critical workers who are 50 years or older and work in certain congregate settings (agriculture, food processing, grocery stores, educators, child care, prisons and jails, firefighters, public transit and law enforcement). The following two tiers will likely be reached in the spring and summer also. Tier 3 is for people 16 and older with multiple co-morbidities or underlying conditions. Tier 4 is for critical workers under 50 — which is the same group as tier 2, but just younger. Any phases after that are expected to be reached in the summer and fall, but given how slow the rollout has been, it’s possible that all phases could be reached later than expected and that many won’t receive a vaccine until the late fall.