By Kienan Briscoe | Lynnwood Times Reporter
As of March 31, the Washington Department of Health has opened COVID-19 vaccine distribution to Phase 1B tiers 3 and 4.
These new tiers offer eligibility to those who are high-risk critical workers in congregate settings such as agriculture, fishing vessels, grocery stores, food processing, corrections, court of law, public transit, early learning, first responders not covered by an earlier phase, pregnant people, those 60 years and older and those 16 years and older with two or more co-morbidities or underlying conditions.
Vaccination is available for members of this and previous phases regardless of insurance, citizenship, or immigration status.
As of March 23, the Snohomish Health District reports a total of 114,036 county residents have been fully vaccinated with another 81,626 residents partially vaccinated. Snohomish County has an estimated population of 822,000 residents.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has addressed concerns of the vaccine altering one’s DNA by stating this to be false. According to the CDC, “mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA.”
According to the World Health Organization, there are many strict protections in place to help ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Like all vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines are going through a rigorous, multi-stage testing process, including large (phase III) trials that involve tens of thousands of people.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 must be stored in an ultra-cold freezer between -80°C and -60°C and must be pre-warmed prior to administering with a shelf life of hours after warming, as indicated by the CDC.
Despite recent rumors that sites were administering surplus doses to anyone regardless of phase eligibility, the Snohomish Health District claims this is false and that the circulation of these rumors are a detriment to vaccination efforts.
“Healthcare providers should be following the state’s current vaccine phases timeline. One exception is if [the] vaccine would otherwise go to waste,” said Shelby Anderson, Washington State Department of Health Public Information Officer. “We ask that providers use their best judgement to vaccinate the next available person in the closest vaccination phase or tier rather than waste [the] vaccine.”
Vaccination sites are located in at: the Boeing Everett Activity Center, Edmonds College, the Evergreen State Fairgrounds, Arlington Airport and Angel of The Winds Arena in Everett. One must have an appointment, provide proof of appointment, as well as provide a form of ID to show that they are the person for whom the appointment was booked.
To schedule a vaccination appointment visit http://bit.ly/snocovaccine and select the desired vaccine site under “Register.”
According to a media release by the Snohomish Health District, many links circulating last week were for second doses only. Residents are encouraged to check with the site prior to registering to ensure it is offering the appropriate dose. Hundreds of people have been turned away from the clinic in Arlington because they arrived for a first dose at a second dose only clinic, the release states. This slows down the established process.
The number of vaccines varies per clinic and the minimum order size and increment for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is 195 multidose vials (one tray) per order. A thermal shipping container can hold up to 5 trays or 975 multidose vials. All persons eligible for vaccination should receive 2 doses at least 3 weeks apart. Both doses should be of the same product.
As of March 28, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington are 339,761 with 3,245,982 vaccine doses given. In Snohomish County, there are 30,790 confirmed cases with 315,258 vaccines given, according to the COVID-19 Data Dashboard administered by the Washington Department of Health.