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Health - Public Health News

Posted on: January 18, 2021

Whatcom County Vaccine Update 1/18/21

Washington State Department of Health has announced that we will start to move to Phase 1B Tier 1 today. This opens up vaccinations to people 65 and older, and people who are 50 and older who live in multigenerational households.  Due to limited vaccine supply, Whatcom County is still prioritizing individuals in Phase 1A Tiers 1 and 2. Here’s what you need to know.

Who is able to be vaccinated now?

Individuals who are in Phase 1A, Tiers 1 and 2, and those in Phase 1B Tier 1 are now eligible to be vaccinated in Washington State.

While DOH has opened up vaccinations to Phase 1B Tier 1 individuals, in Whatcom County we will still be prioritizing vaccines for Phase 1A individuals. We have not yet received enough vaccine supply to vaccinate everyone in the Phase 1A group. 

Who is in Phase 1A and Phase 1B?

Right now, anyone in Phase 1A should get vaccinated. Phase 1A includes:

  • Healthcare workers at the highest risk of getting or passing on COVID-19.
    • This includes caregivers or other workers with direct patient contact in settings like the hospital, home health care, assisted living or skilled nursing facilities, urgent care clinics, or COVID-19 testing sites. 
  • First responders working in emergency medical services at high risk of exposure to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients via high public exposure and procedures. 
  • Residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
  • All other workers at risk in health care settings.

Phase 1B Tier 1

  • All people 65 years and older.
  • People 50 years and older who live in multigenerational households.
    • A multigenerational household is defined as any home where individuals from 2 or more generations reside, such as an elder and a grandchild.

What This Means For You

Vaccine demand continues to exceed supply. If you are in Phase 1A, work with your employer to get vaccinated. Vaccine providers in our county are working with Phase 1A employers to get their workers vaccinated.

If you are in Phase 1B Tier 1, keep in mind that your healthcare provider probably isn’t yet offering vaccines to people eligible in Phase 1B. 

  • Check your healthcare provider’s website for updates about vaccine availability.
  • Pay attention to email or text updates from your provider.
  • Please be patient. Know that your provider is likely getting many calls from people with questions about vaccines.

Why are we still prioritizing Phase 1A?

Some counties in Washington with smaller populations have been able to complete vaccinations of their Phase 1A groups and are ready to move onto Phase 1B. That is not the case here in Whatcom County, and we must continue to prioritize Phase 1A individuals.

Right now, the demand for vaccines in Whatcom County is more than the supply. There are many people in 1A who still need to be vaccinated, and as of last week, there has only been enough vaccine shipped to Whatcom County to vaccinate about 50-60% of the top priority Phase 1A workers. See our vaccine update from January 14 to learn more. 

Only about one-third of the pharmacies and healthcare providers in Whatcom County who have chosen to become COVID-19 vaccine providers have been fully enrolled in the state’s vaccine program. There are still over 30 vaccine providers who have started the enrollment process but have not yet been approved by DOH. That means they are currently unable to receive or administer vaccines. 

It’s good news that more people are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. But until our state begins to receive more vaccine and more vaccination sites open up, vaccination will continue to be limited in our county. We need to be patient for just a while longer.

You Matter

No matter where you land on the vaccine prioritization timetable, the goal is to get you vaccinated as soon as possible. You can help by getting in line and staying in line when it’s your turn to get the vaccine. When it’s time to get vaccinated, sign up right away, and keep your appointment!

While you are waiting for the vaccine, you can still do the three W’s:  Wear a Mask, Wash your Hands, Watch your distance.  In fact, we need you to in order to get through this as safely as we can. Case rates are at their highest point ever in Whatcom County, and when you do take these small actions, you’re saying that everyone around you matters too.

Information about vaccines is changing quickly and we strive to provide the most reliable and accurate update in a timely way. You can expect more updates from us and from the Washington State Department of Health as soon as we are able to provide solid information for you.

For the most up-to-date information, check our website frequently and sign up for email updates for the latest details. Select Health - Public Health News to subscribe to email updates with the latest information.

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