B1 tier population urged to register for vaccination
January 21, 2021
By Shane McGuire
CEO, Columbia County Hospital District
Special to the Dayton Chronicle
The SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as COVID-19, vaccine has arrived to our Hospital District and we started first-dose vaccination of our community's first responders and front-line healthcare workers early in January. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are two-dose schedules, and we will be starting our second dosing the week of the January 24. We currently have the Moderna vaccine in the community, but we are working to be able to receive both manufacturers after compensating for challenges with storing the Pfizer vaccine, which requires -80°, ultra-low temperature freezers.
Washington State has established a phased approach to vaccination starting with A1/A2 that included: High-risk healthcare workers in health-care settings, High-risk first responders, Long-Term Care, and all other workers at risk in healthcare settings. In an effort to not waste any vaccine doses, we used a first come, first served list compiled by Columbia County Public Health of community members wanting the vaccine that were in the next tier B1. This tier is comprised of all people 70 or older and all people 50 years or older living in multi-generational households.
Beginning Monday, January 18, the Governor expanded the B1 group to include all people 65 or older and all people 50 years or older living in multi-generational households. In addition to expanding the group, he gave permission to begin wide-scale vaccination of this phase. The number of people in this category for our Hospital District is approximately 1,300 people. We have already started vaccinating community members from this category on-site at the hospital, but we plan on moving to a larger, off-site facility the week of January 25 to accommodate a much higher throughput.
We have partnered with Columbia County to use the fairgrounds buildings as a mass vaccination site. Columbia County Fire District has agreed to provide emergency medical personnel to monitor vaccine recipients for the required 15 minutes post vaccination, and we are working with Public Health to facilitate the scheduling of interested community members along with the follow-up data reporting. We plan on working our way through the remainder of the list provided by Public Health but encourage all community members wanting the vaccine to call Public Health at 509-382-2181 to get their name on the list.
As we continue to progress to later phases, we will schedule from this list so even if you are younger than 65, we encourage you to secure your place to be called when we reach your phase.
Last, regarding the phases: There currently is no consideration for comorbidities (underlying health conditions) until phase B3 so the list is being worked in the order that people called in and by phase. Additional information regarding the phases can be found here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/VaccinationPhasesInfographic.pdf.
As we move forward with this monumental task, there are a few things to be considerate of: Nationally the supply of vaccine remains tight. We often do not know the amount of vaccine we will receive until it shows up and this includes the inventory for the second dose which is needed to complete the vaccine course. We are working closely with the State to ensure that we have adequate supply, and the multiagency team is coordinating diligently to ensure proper scheduling. It will be essential that community members come with their paperwork completed to increase efficiency.
We ask the community to be hypervigilant about their current health status so that we do not expose our healthcare workers to COVID while they are conducting the vaccination clinic as this could slow vaccination delivery for the entire community by taking these essential workers out of the fight. Remember that we are still in Phase 1 of the State's Safe Start plan, so maintain masking and social distancing while at the vaccination site.