Idaho sees a dip in COVID-19 vaccine appointments

KOOTENAI CO., Idaho — We’ve all heard stories by now about people crossing the border to Idaho to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but the Panhandle Health District says they are not aware of it happening.

Governor Brad Little closed the loophole for out-of-state people being able to get the vaccine last month. Now, demand for the vaccine is on the decline in the Gem State.

So far in Spokane County, there have been 188,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine given out so far, but if you go across the border to Idaho, Kootenai County has only administered 37,000 doses.

Currently the vaccine is available in Idaho to those ages 55 and older, healthcare workers, and teachers among other groups. The state intends to move to 45 and up with a medical condition next week.

In Washington it’s a little more strict. The state is in Phase 1B Tier 2, which includes high-risk workers, educators and people 65 and older.

While there may be some looking for a loophole to get the vaccine more easily, Governor Little closed access to the vaccine for people from outside states last month.

“So within our district at our vaccine clinics, we ask people to bring ID so we do check if someone, one is meets the eligibility as far as age and also meets the eligibility based off of living here in Idaho,” said Katherine Hoyer of Panhandle Health District.

The demand may be declining in the state at this point, but waste of the doses is still at a minimal.

On March 4, Idaho reported 393,000 doses of the vaccine administered, only 358 went to waste. As of March 23, Washington administered 2.6 million doses and reported 3,900 wasted doses.

“I was hoping for a bit more of a demand. So we may open it up, but also we want to get the word out that if you’re hesitant about receiving the vaccine please contact us, let us know what your concerns are,” said Hoyer.

The Health District will be meeting with their local providers on Tuesday night to discuss whether or not they want to move into another phase quicker than anticipated. Governor Little will be making an announcement tomorrow, but the details of it are unknown at this time.