ASOTIN — A coordinated effort between Tri-State Memorial Hospital and the Asotin County Public Health District is helping health care workers and first responders get vaccinated for COVID-19.
At Monday’s Asotin County Commission meeting, officials were updated on how the process is working at the local level. Tri-State CEO Don Wee said Clarkston has received 100 Moderna doses and 975 Pfizer vaccines, which must be stored at 80 degrees below zero.
Each Pfizer vial contains five doses, so folks have to be “signed up and lined up” when the shots are ready to go. Three weeks later, the recipients return for their second shot. The Moderna doses will be administered to elderly Evergreen Estates residents on the Tri-State Medical Campus.
As of Friday, 442 people had been vaccinated, Wee told the commissioners. The shots are not mandatory for hospital employees or first responders, and some people are waiting to see how it goes, while others are eager to get vaccinated against the virus that’s caused a pandemic.
During the next round of vaccinations, Asotin County residents older than 70 will be eligible, along with people over 50 who live in multi-generational households. However, Tri-State is waiting on clarification from the state on what constitutes a multi-generational household, Wee said.
To date, more than 2,500 Asotin County residents have been identified in the 75-and-older age group. This population has demonstrated a high acceptance rate of getting the vaccine, Wee said.
How quickly the vaccines roll out is dependent upon the volume supplied to the hospital by the state, officials said.
“That’s the whole wild card in this,” Wee said. “We don’t know the future amounts we may get. It’s hard to plan not knowing the quantity we’ll get or when it will be delivered.”
Tri-State’s goal is to get enough of the vaccines to provide 500 shots a day at a large venue, Wee said. It will take a lot of employees to pull it off, but the hospital is in a position to make it happen, depending on when the COVID-19 vaccines arrive.
“Overall, we’re doing pretty good,” the CEO said. “It’s a well-planned, coordinated effort.”
Daily updates on the virus are provided on the hospital’s website and through the Asotin County Public Health District. People who want a COVID-19 vaccine can call Tri-State’s hotline at (509) 769-2215 to get on the list.
Wee said availability and consistency of how much Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is coming is key to getting all of the various tiers scheduled. A complete list of the tiers is available on the Washington Department of Health website.
During the discussion, Commissioner Chuck Whitman said he’s hopeful the county can move to Phase 2 of the governor’s new plan as soon as possible. As of now, the county is lumped in with larger communities that could hinder a broader reopening.
“Moving into Phase 2 would be tremendous,” Whitman said. “We are seeing a lot of severe psychological effects on people because of this pandemic.”
Now that Asotin County is included in the East region, officials may need to apply for an exception to move out of Phase 1, and the hospital and health district will be instrumental in the process, officials said.
“We really want to get this place opened up again,” Commissioner Brian Shinn said.
Wee said Tri-State is here to help, with a focus on public safety and the health of the community.
“We have the same goal,” Wee said. “Get it safe and get it back open.”
Sandaine may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @newsfromkerri.