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Vaccine supplies may be coming in waves: How to get one

Ninety-three-and-a-half-year-old Max Weed, a lifelong resident of Snohomish, is given his COVID-19 vaccination by pharmacist Dawn Ipsen at Kusler’s Compounding Pharmacy in Snohomish on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Doug Ramsay photo

Ninety-three-and-a-half-year-old Max Weed, a lifelong resident of Snohomish, is given his COVID-19 vaccination by pharmacist Dawn Ipsen at Kusler’s Compounding Pharmacy in Snohomish on Tuesday, Jan. 19.


SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Anxious demand is far outstripping available vaccine supplies, and appointment times at drive-thru vaccine sites are getting snapped up quickly. The vaccine supplies are sent from the federal government.
It took just one hour for people to fill 3,900 drive-thru appointment slots that the Snohomish Health District opened over this past weekend, district spokeswoman Kari Bray said Monday, Jan. 25.
State health officials predicted a shortfall would happen, as thousands of residents age 65 and older can now get the vaccine after the state opened up its next phase of eligibility last week.
To get a vaccine, your first stop is to get a certificate of eligibility online at www.FindYourPhaseWA.org.
Fill out the website questionnaire and, if eligible, you’ll receive a certificate. Print the certificate with your printer or use your smartphone to take a screenshot or photo of the certificate, and take it with you to the appointment. Each person must obtain their own certificate. People without Internet can call a state Department of Health hotline at 1-800-525-0127 (press #) to identify if they are eligible for the vaccine.
Next, if eligible, call your doctor’s office or preferred pharmacy to ask if they have vaccines, or visit www.snohd.org/covidvaccine to set up an appointment at the drive-thru sites.
Not everywhere has the vaccine, but Kusler’s Compounding Pharmacy in Snohomish on Avenue D was one. Its available appointments were full when checked on Thursday, Jan. 21.
Owner Dawn Ipsen said Kusler’s is largely seeing local, familiar faces.
“These are people who have obviously been locked in” since the pandemic started, Ipsen said. “The amount of hope in their faces” after coming in for the vaccine is remarkable, she said.
Many seniors have isolated themselves to avoid the virus. Eighty percent of COVID-19 deaths are from people 65 and older.
“It’s an absolute honor to be one of the first to give them the COVID-19 vaccine,” Ipsen said.
Everyone vaccinated will need to return three to four weeks after their first shot to get the second dose. New last week, the CDC reportedly is willing to stretch this timeframe to six weeks.
Ipsen said Kusler’s booked appointments in groups because their Moderna vaccine vials contain 10 doses each, and once opened these must be used within six hours before they expire.
She is heartened that doctors came to volunteer at Kusler’s to help administer the vaccine.
The state is managing vaccine inventories closely, and will reallocate vaccines elsewhere if the providers selected to receive vaccines do not administer almost all the doses they get within seven days.
All members of the public age 65+ became immediately eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine last week under what’s classified as Phase 1B.  Certain people who are age 50 and older who live in multi-generational households are also eligible as part of Phase 1B. The state’s health department clarified the criteria for this group recently. The eligibility is for people who cannot live independently and are receiving outside care from another family member or a visiting nurse, people who are unable to live independently who live with a person who works outside the home, as well as people who are in a “household where individuals from two or more generations reside such as an elder and a grandchild.” The multi-generational category does not include a parent or guardian able to live independently and lives with a child, teen or younger adult.
In Snohomish County, there are approximately 150,000 people eligible for the vaccine, including 120,000 people age 65 and older, according to Snohomish County’s health officer Dr. Chris Spitters.
More than 25,000 doses have been administered in the county as of Tuesday, Jan. 16.
Statewide, less than 1 percent of all Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated with the two-dose regimen as of Jan. 16.

If you get the vaccine
Expect to stay on-site for 15 to 30 minutes before being allowed to leave. This waiting period is a federal recommendation to ensure there are no adverse reactions. The vaccine can cause discomfort, fevers, chills or headaches in some patients.
The vaccine is administered in the arm.
You are not exempt from mask mandates after receiving the vaccine.

Before getting the vaccine
The vaccine is free in Washington state, including for people with no health insurance.
Pharmacies ask that you bring your insurance card because the pharmacy may be able to bill your insurance carrier an administrative fee for the time spent and for the disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) used while administering the vaccine, Ipsen of Kusler’s said.

To make an appointment
• At the outdoor drive-thru sites at Paine Field or the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, find information through www.snohd.org/
covidvaccine
• At Providence’s clinics in Monroe and Everett, visit coronavirus.providence.org
• At Skagit Health Center in Smokey Point, visit www.skagitregionalhealth.org/covid-vaccine  or call 360-814-6300.
• At the Everett QFC grocery store at Broadway and Everett Avenue, visit www.qfc.com/rx/guest/get-vaccinated  (The QFC in Claremont Village is not offering the COVID-19 vaccine yet.)
• At Sea Mar Community Health Center in Monroe, call 360-282-3885.
• If insured through Kaiser Permanente: Do their questionnaire at www.kp.org/wa/e-visit to first determine eligibility, and if eligible, you will be allowed to set up a vaccine appointment at a Kaiser-affiliated location.

Think you have COVID-19?
Common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have been exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19, contact your health care provider for a test.
Health officials ask that if you think you have COVID-19 that you don’t come in for the vaccine right now because you might infect others.

For local questions
The Snohomish Health District has a call center: 425-339-5278.


COUNTYWIDE COVID-19 CASE COUNT TRENDS OVER 2-WEEK INTERVALS


Snohomish Health District graphic

Recent COVID-19 new case rate trends spiked during the post-Christmas rush, but have possibly turned back downward as of mid-January, but are nowhere near the spike seen last March at the start of the pandemic. The yellow line along the bottom is the target case load for the county of under 25 new cases per 100,000 people.


  

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