Clark County’s COVID-19 mass vaccination site continues to exceed inoculation expectations, and even garnered praise from Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday morning, when he visited the site near Ridgefield.
Inslee said the county’s site has been administering more than 700 doses of the vaccine per day, higher than initial estimates, which projected daily injections closer to 500.
The site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. Washington has three other mass vaccination sites in Kennewick, Spokane and Wenatchee.
Roughly 3,000 doses of the vaccine will be injected into arms at Clark County’s site this week.
Inslee was joined on his visit by new Washington Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah. The governor chatted with U.S. National Guard members and Safeway staff, who are handling logistics and administering the vaccine.
“We could not be more delighted about how functional this operation has become so quickly to bring so many vaccinations at such a critical time,” Inslee said.
While the site is exceeding expectations, appointments for vaccinations are required, and the appointment scheduling system has caused some confusion.
Rebecca Baron, a vaccination pod manager with the Washington State Department of Health, said the state is working on improving the scheduling system.
She said the state hopes to create a phone line for a portion of appointments so those without reliable internet access can call in.
“We are working through some of those issues,” Baron said.
One key problem with scheduling is that states only know their vaccine allotment on a week-to-week basis. They usually find out the upcoming week’s allotment toward the end of the week. That hinders appointment scheduling.
Shah said the problem should be smoothed over, because states will soon start getting vaccine allotment information for the coming three weeks, not just the coming week. That means the site should soon be able to schedule appointments three weeks into the future.
“Our goal is to try to make it easy as possible for Washingtonians to register and sign up,” Shah said.
Another problem right now is that overall vaccine supply is low. For this week, Clark County received 3,725 vaccine doses, according to discussion from Wednesday’s Clark County Board of Health meeting.
There are an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 people who are eligible for vaccination in Clark County right now, so it will take weeks to work through everyone who is currently eligible.
As of Saturday, Clark County had received just shy of 38,000 vaccine doses since Dec. 16. About 23,300 of those doses were for first shots and 14,750 were for booster doses — the second and final dose.
According to Department of Health data, Clark County has administered 19,246 doses of vaccine, with close 3,200 people getting both doses.
The county has also been able to refer about 7,000 people to health care providers for vaccinations through its online form so far, but there’s still about 23,000 pending requests for vaccinations.
“There’s a period of waiting that is mathematically necessary, but I am confident that Washingtonians can get through this,” Inslee said.
More supply should be on the way soon, according to Inslee. The state is set to receive a 16 percent bump in vaccine allocation over the next three weeks. Inslee also referenced President Joe Biden’s recent purchase of an extra 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, which should further bolster stock in the coming months.
“I think it should encourage us, the progress we’ve made in the state of Washington,” Inslee said. “We’ve gone from about 13,000 vaccinations a day to almost 40,000 a day in the last week to 10 days. We are on the path to success.”