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Washington Nears One Million Covid Vaccinations; Long-Term Care Prioritized In Spokane

Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington state health officials say nearly one million residents have received at least one of the Covid 19 vaccinations in the state. That's a major mile marker as they push to meet a goal of vaccinating 45,000 per day.

Even so, they say they are seeing inequity in the number of minorities who are receiving the shots. A new report says Hispanics make up 4.7% of those who have received one dose of vaccine, and 5.9% who are now fully vaccinated. That's a lower figure than the state's Hispanic population, 13.2%.

?Washington Health Secretary Umair Shah says there are likely several reasons for the disparity.??

“We know there are linguistic issues, language issues, there may be issues around immigration. There may be issues about trust and mistrust with government or public sector. We also recognize there may be a hesitation for the vaccines themselves," he said.

Shah says some social media have been targeting minority populations by telling them to wait before getting vaccinated. He says another reason for the inequity has been the focus on high-risk older populations first as vaccine recipients.

The state is still far away from that 45,000 daily goal.  The latest figure is 27,000 per day.

Assistant Health Secretary Michele Roberts says the state is working on several vaccine-related fronts.

??“We’re committed to ensuring a second dose of vaccine for everyone who receives a first dose. We’ve asked our providers to prioritize vaccine series completion. This might mean uses first dose supplies to vaccinate people who need second doses. To stay on track providers should schedule second dose appointments visits when giving the first dose," Roberts said.

The second Pfizer dose needs to follow the first by three weeks, the second Moderna dose must come one month after the first.

Roberts says people should make sure they get their second dose at the same location as the first. She says recipients should have their record cards the second time around to make sure they get the correct vaccine.?

In Spokane the next round of Covid inoculations started Wednesday at the mass vaccination site at the arena. On Tuesday, CHAS Health made four thousand appointments online and over the phone in just over an hour. Those shots will be administered over the next week.

Meanwhile, after a week of receiving no vaccine from the state, Interim Health Officer Frank Velazquez says the health district received nearly a thousand doses this week "which we’re using for long-term care for the most part and some school clinics if there is some excess," he said. "The reason why I say excess is because not all of the long-term care facilities are waiting for vaccine anymore. There are some that have received vaccine through third parties.”

Velazquez says the coronavirus trends in Spokane County continue to be encouraging. The peaks of new daily cases are usually not as high as in December and January. The infection rate continues to drop. And the number of people being tested has fallen from the peaks of a couple of months ago.

“People are following the guidance," he said. "People that need to get tested are getting tested so they can be isolated or quarantined, depending on what the situation is, and prevent transmission. We also have thousands of people who have been immunized and we do have people who have had disease, so there’s a little bit of that immunity.”

He says the health district is working with private organizations to create a variety of community-based vaccination sites, to reach people in underserved groups, in case the state increases the number of doses it ships here.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.