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Covid Vaccine Demand Causes Problems For Rural Providers

NW Rural Health Network

Now that people 65 and older are eligible for Covid vaccines in Washington, people are contacting their health providers, asking when they can get their shots. That’s causing issues for providers, especially in rural areas.

At Columbia Basin Hospital in Ephrata, administrator Rosalinda Kibby says people began showing up unannounced at her facility.

“We have a wait list of a thousand people right now. ‘I want to be on that wait list. I want my vaccine.’ That’s challenging. We have very restricted access to our buildings right now. We also have nursing home residents, assisted living residents. We have high-risk people here that we care for. We’ve had to work a lot in our community to try to quell the demand," Kibby said.

At Skagit Regional Health in Mount Vernon, CEO Brian Ivie says his facilities have stopped scheduling new vaccination appointments for older patients. He says he’s unsure about his system’s future vaccine supply and doesn’t want to make commitments he can’t keep.

Many of Washington’s mass vaccination sites, including the Spokane Arena, are scheduled to open this week.

Tom DeBord from Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue says his facility is looking at moving its Covid vaccination infrastructure to the spacious Microsoft campus in Redmond.