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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 22, 2021
CONTACT: Heather Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Based on new regional data published by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), Snohomish County will remain in Phase 1 for the week begin January 25.
The Puget Sound Region currently meets only two of the four criteria laid out in the Healthy Washington: Roadmap to Recovery announced by Governor Jay Inslee. There reported metrics for the Puget Sound Region published January 22 are as follows:
The DOH compiles updated data by region every Friday. Regions that meet all four criteria above are eligible to move to Phase 2 on the following Monday. The Snohomish Health District will publish an updated snapshot on Tuesday with data comparisons specific to Snohomish County.
On Monday, Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced that the state was expanding vaccine eligibility to include Phase 1b1. This expansion means approximately 150,000 more residents in Snohomish County are now eligible for the vaccine
Phase 1b1 eligibility includes residents 65 years or older, as well as those who are 50 or older and living in a household with multiple generations. Those eligible in multigenerational households are defined as:
No one under age 50 is eligible, and no one over age 50 caring for a partner, friend, or child (except a grandchild) is eligible.
“This clearance for us to move ahead to vaccinate our older adults in the community is good news, but we sadly don’t yet have 150,000 vaccines to give out today,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “While we currently have the capacity to give at least 30,000 doses per week, vaccine supplies are extremely limited and nowhere near where we need them to be to achieve that speed. That means we need people to balance perseverance with patience as the vaccine supply ramps up, appointments become more available, and they wait for their turn in line.”
More than 25,000 Snohomish County residents have received their first dose in the first five weeks, but vaccine supply has slowed to a trickle. Snohomish County received just over 3,000 doses this week, with close to 200,000 people eligible under Phase 1a and 1b1 vying for limited slots for their first or second dose. This has led to local providers, as well as the Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce’s sites, to be quickly booked out.
Appointments will be added for the County’s drive-thru sites when supplies are available. People should not show up at a site unless they have an appointment, regardless of eligibility. Please continue to monitor the websites every couple of days:
Eligible individuals are also encouraged to contact their healthcare provider, clinic or local pharmacy to determine what their availability and scheduling plans are. Again, it is expected to take 1-3 months to work through Phase 1b1. People will get appointments for their shots, but it will take time.
“It’s also important to understand that where people currently land in the prioritization and phases is not a reflection on their value in this community,” added Dr. Spitters. “If we had unlimited vaccine supply and clinical capacity to administer the vaccine, prioritization would not be necessary. But neither of those are the case.”
This is why, until vaccines start flowing into Washington and Snohomish County at a higher and more predictable pace, there is a need to prioritize the limited capacity not necessarily toward those at higher risk of acquiring COVID, but rather for those most likely to become severely ill, require hospitalization, and/or die if they get infected.
These phases and tiers reflect the work of multidisciplinary teams working at both the federal and state level to maximize societal benefits, support essential functions of society, and address inequities in access to services. This work has involved medical scientists, social scientists, ethicists, and outreach to community stakeholders.
The goal is to get everyone vaccinated and keep them safe as soon as feasible. Everyone is working toward that goal every day, but the first order of business is to defuse the threat of an overwhelming hospital surge.
While waiting for your turn, here are four things you can do to help:
Vaccine distribution at this scale and speed is a first in our lifetimes, and public health and our partners are learning in real time. Everyone will need to keep being flexible and making adjustments along the way, just as everyone has already been doing for the last year of this COVID response.
Just as supplies are extremely limited for people trying to get their first dose, similar challenges are the case for those needing their second dose. There may be the need for healthcare providers to postpone or cancel appointments if vaccine supplies do not arrive as expected. Others may not yet be scheduling appointments for the second dose yet because the supplies are so limited and unpredictable.
According to federal guidelines, individuals should receive two doses of the Moderna vaccine at least 28 days apart and 21 days apart for the Pfizer vaccine. These are considered the minimum intervals or amount of time needed to separate the two doses, but there is no maximum or cut-off. It is recommended that doses be given as close to that 21 or 28 days as possible, but people should not be concerned about the two-dose series’ efficacy if the second dose is delayed by a few weeks.
The Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce is working on a process to register people for their second dose to ensure the brand of vaccine currently offered matches what an individual received for their first dose. It is not recommended to mix brands, such as Moderna for the first dose and Pfizer for the second, unless absolutely necessary.
The Health District is encouraging people to wait until they are closer to their 21- or 28-day mark before seeking to schedule an appointment for the second dose. In the meantime, people need to save the immunization card received during their first dose appointment. If possible, take a photo or scan a copy to have just in case the original is lost. Also know which brand of vaccine that was originally received and ask the vaccine provider if they are giving the same brand of vaccine.
One year ago this week, a Snohomish County man went to a walk-in clinic displaying symptoms after having returned from Wuhan, China. Less than 24 hours after specimens were flown to CDC labs in Atlanta, the Health District was notified that his lab results were confirmed as the first positive case the novel coronavirus—now known as COVID-19—in the United States.
This agency—and this community—will be forever changed from that moment forward. The pandemic has turned out to be everything and more than people feared in terms of scope and impact on society.
However, more is now known to help inform how to deal with the pandemic. Scientists and experts across the globe have helped guide public health and governmental efforts. It is also remarkable to think that testing technology was developed in a matter of weeks and has been continuously improved upon since then. Science has also now brought hope for an exit from the pandemic in the form of safe and effective vaccines.
Dr. Spitters and County Executive Dave Somers shared their thoughts earlier this week, which can be viewed or read online. A timeline of the first 12-months has also been developed and is now available online.
“Thousands in this County have sacrificed time with friends and families, lost jobs or businesses, or have lost loved ones to COVID,” shared Dr. Spitters. “I recognize that the decisions made have both short-term and lasting impacts as we move through this, and we have a long road of recovery ahead. Our collective response has saved lives, spared hospital capacity, and prevented further suffering.”
The locations and schedules for next week’s drive-thru testing operated by the Health District are as follows:
Testing is by appointment only and registration is now open at www.snohd.org/testing. Those without internet access or needing language assistance can reach the Health District’s call center at 425.339.5278. The call center is staffed 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after hours or on weekends can leave a message, which will be returned on the next business day.
Testing is open to anyone, regardless of symptoms, but remains strongly encouraged for individuals that fit the following criteria: