FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 18, 2020
Joint Information Center (JIC), Snohomish County Emergency Coordination Center
Casey Calamusa, Providence Regional Medical Center Everett
Heather Thomas, Snohomish Health District
Lacey Harper, Snohomish County
COVID Vaccines Arrive in Snohomish County
First county, hospital in the nation with confirmed case now vaccinating high-risk workers
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Nearly a year after the first case of COVID-19 in the United States was confirmed in a Snohomish County man, a glimmer of hope has finally arrived. Providence Regional Medical Center Everett (PRMCE) received 3,900 doses of the new Pfizer vaccine on Thursday.
“This is good news for our community, our county and our entire country. We can now see the light at the end of these darkest days of the pandemic,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “This first round of vaccines will protect those on the frontlines of COVID patient care and individuals most at risk. Though we must remain vigilant as vaccine production ramps up, vaccination gives us all hope for the New Year.”
Starting tomorrow, these vaccines will be administered to Providence caregivers who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus, and will be equitably distributed based on work location and role. Five caregivers were given the vaccine this morning as part of a practice run.
“Providence caregivers have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic longer than anyone in the country,” said Dr. Jay Cook, Chief Medical Officer at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. “The arrival of this vaccine is great news for our caregivers and our communities, and is the first step in the long recovery process from this pandemic. We couldn’t be more excited to provide this vaccine to those on the frontlines.”
Photos courtesy of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett can be viewed or downloaded at https://spaces.hightail.com/space/XsNcQTq6Mc. Film footage and interview clips will be available through that link later this afternoon.
This shipment was the first of many expected in Snohomish County in the coming days and weeks. The Washington State Department of Health has indicated that they expect additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be shipped by the end of December. An additional 183,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine are also expected by the end of December, assuming the FDA approves the emergency use authorization. Regular weekly shipments of both vaccines should begin in January.
“Not only is it coming at a critical time for our healthcare system, but it’s something positive for the community to look forward to and a relief for us here at the Health District,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “This is an incredible milestone, but we still have miles to go. Please keep up the mask wearing, avoiding gatherings with non-household members, and staying at least six feet apart. Vaccinated or not, we must all keep our guard up until vaccine coverage is high and COVID rates are down.”
The first group in Snohomish County eligible for the vaccine—known as Phase 1a—includes 15,000-16,000 high-risk workers in health care settings, high-risk first responders, and employees at long-term care and similar adult care settings. In addition to those employees, there are approximately 10,000-12,000 residents living in the long-term or adult care facilities that are eligible to receive the vaccine.
While most of those people will receive their vaccines through their employer or facility, the Health District is finalizing a voucher program for employees of smaller agencies to be vaccinated by a participating partner. Those details will be available by the end of December.
There is still work to be done, and more information is coming in daily. People can sign up for the Snohomish County COVID-19 Briefing to receive twice-weekly emails. The Health District has also launched www.snohd.org/covidvaccine to provide a landing spot for reliable information on the COVID vaccines. Current resources include:
Starting next week, the Health District will provide information on the number of vaccines received in the county during the previous week. Staff are looking at options on how to share data with the public about vaccines being administered. However, this is a complex process that is spread across the healthcare and public health systems and will take some time to build.
DOH will soon launch a tool that allows someone to know what phase they’re in. Please monitor www.CovidVaccineWA.org for updates on their distribution and prioritization guidelines for the next phases of the vaccine in the coming weeks.