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News / Health / Clark County Health

Clark County continues to see vaccine boost

For second week, it receives more than 14,000 first doses of COVID-19 shot

By Wyatt Stayner, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 10, 2021, 6:42pm

Clark County continues to see a greater COVID-19 vaccine allocation two weeks after legislators, county councilors and Clark County Public Health pressed the state on the county’s small weekly allocations.

At Wednesday’s Clark County Board of Health meeting, Clark County Public Health Officer Dr. Alan Melnick said the county received another increase in vaccine this week, after more than tripling its average first dose allocation last week.

Through the first 11 weeks of Washington’s vaccine rollout, Clark County averaged roughly 4,100 first doses of the vaccine. That information came to light when Clark County Public Health provided a data analysis to The Columbian that showed the state was shorting Clark County on its allocation, in comparison with other counties.

The news led to an immediate increase in vaccine allocation to Clark County, with the county receiving more than 14,100 first doses of the vaccine last week. Melnick said the allocation increased again to 14,970 first doses this week.

“After we shared that our allocation was significantly lower than comparable counties, our allocation has increased considerably,” Melnick said. “In those two weeks, we basically got 20,000 more doses than we would have gotten.”

The results from that influx have been immediate for Clark County, according to Melnick.

In the early days of the vaccine rollout, Public Health created a waiting list to help pair people with providers for vaccine. Since Clark County received little vaccine, with most of it directed to the county’s mass vaccination site, the vaccine request list ballooned to roughly 37,000 people waiting for shots a couple weeks ago.

With the increase in supply, Public Health has now whittled down that waitlist to 4,559 people. Out of 58,691 total requests for vaccine, Public Health has referred 49,167 people to providers for requests.

That means nearly 84 percent of requests have been submitted to providers. Another 8.4 percent of people were able to find vaccine elsewhere before being contacted by Public Health for a referral.

According to state Department of Health data from Wednesday afternoon, Clark County has administered 80,263 doses of vaccine. Nearly 33,000 residents are fully vaccinated.

About 14 percent of the county has received one vaccine dose and close to 7 percent of the county is fully vaccinated. As of Feb. 24, 8.26 percent of Clark County’s population had received one dose and only 3.47 percent of the population was fully vaccinated.

“We’ve made significant progress in the last couple weeks,” Melnick said.

Another good sign is that Clark County’s mass vaccination site is seeing more available appointments. When the site first offered appointments through an online portal, Melnick said each slot was booked within minutes.

When appointments became available last Sunday, it took until Tuesday morning for all slots to be taken, Melnick said.

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“Vaccine appointments are taking longer to fill, which suggests that supply is catching up with demand,” Melnick continued.

Clark County Councilor Gary Medvigy asked Melnick about challenges to vaccinating at-risk groups such as the county’s Black, Latino/Hispanic and Pacific Islander populations.

Melnick said the county has work to do in that regard. He mentioned a vaccine drive last week that inoculated nearly 700 people from those communities and also said the county is setting aside appointments at its Tower Mall vaccine site, specifically for eligible people from those communities.

Melnick said more advanced notice on vaccine allocation would help the county plan opportunities to vaccinate at-risk populations.

“If you don’t know that you’re going to have vaccine available until a few days before you’re going to have to use it, that whole setup makes it very difficult for people who don’t have good internet access or are working as essential workers,” Melnick said. “There have been challenges in terms of reaching those populations.”

Melnick said he thinks vaccine allocation will become more predictable as supply increases in the near future.

“There’s still some uncertainty there, but hopefully it changes as the vaccine supply increases,” he said.

Columbian staff writer