COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues to struggle in Washington

SPOKANE, Wash. — There were 524 new reported cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths in Spokane on Tuesday.  While the vaccine is available to a small number of people right now.  The rollout is still slow, the Spokane Regional Health District is able to access the total amount of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.  Tracking the vaccine is another story, through the emergency management system clinic they have administered 1,400 vaccine so far, but it is still unclear how many have been given outside of the system.

Currently Washington is still in Phase 1A of the COVID-19 rollout which means only healthcare personnel and long term care facility residents have access to the vaccine.  1B, which is people 75 years and older and frontlines works, won’t go into effect until appointments start to decline.  In the meantime SRHD is developing a plan to communication to the masses on how and when to get the vaccine.

“We are still not in that phase yet with those individuals, and then the other strategy is just ensuring that their providers are set up and ready to go so they can access their information on the medical records systems and let them know when they have the vaccine available for their group,” said Kayla Myers the Health Program Specialist.

Officials from SRHD say healthcare providers are going to be key for calling their patients throughout the different phases.  Other officials say as we move through the phases it will become more clear what you supposed to do.

“Right now we’re putting through upwards of 300 (per day) people through the emergency management system this week after that health alert went and there’s no essentially no wait time,” said Myers.

The State of Washington is behind many states, including Idaho, in rolling out a specific plan for the vaccine distribution.  When the time comes to expand the vaccination process, the Health District say it will work similarly to how it’s working now, but on a greater scale in coordination with CHAS Health and other partners.  However it is clear there needs to be more coordination and a lot more space.

“There’s a little bit of screening for symptoms and asking some very specific questions and there’s also an observation period of 15 minutes….So that really means staging that in a way maintaining social distancing which makes the logistics a little more complicated,” said Dr. Francisco Velazquez the Health Officer.

The State of Washington Department of Health is working to get a vaccine finder live online that would tell residents how many doses are in inventory throughout the state, but at this point they are still working through some issues to get the website up.