Snohomish County’s allotment of COVID-19 vaccine doses continues to incresae, although not enough to meet the full need.
During the week of Feb. 1, 23,000 people were vaccinated in the county.
In total about 70,000 individuals have received a first dose in the county, and about 15,000 have received the second dose.
The county was receiving about 9,000 doses a week earlier in the year but that has steadily increased to about 22,000 doses a week currently.
“Any increase is welcome, but frankly I won’t be happy until we have all our mass vaccination sites open and fully booked, and not getting any more calls from frustrated people not being able to book appointments,” said County Executive Dave Somers during a Feb. 9 press briefing.
The vaccination phase the state is currently in allows elderly people to access the vaccine, which creates more people who can get the vaccine than the county has doses.
“The size of the eligible population is 10 times the size of the vaccine supply [per week],” said Snohomish Health District Health Officer Chris Spitters.
This has created a bottleneck of individuals trying to get appointments that they are eligible for.
“Many people attempting to register for an appointment will not be able to get an appointment this week,” said Spitters. “It’s just a fact of life that this is going to take time."
Somers said officials do know the process can be trying for many.
“I know it is frustrating for people who qualify and haven’t been able to get an appointment,” said Somers.
County officials have been preparing mass vaccination sites and other ways of outreach during this time.
“We have mobile teams making sure our most vulnerable residents have access,” said Somers.
They are also planning pop-up vaccine sites for some of the more remote locations in the county.
“Those are in the final stages of planning,” he said.
Most appointments have been set up online, but now the Health District has a call line ready at 425-339-5278 for those who have problems with internet access or have trouble navigating the internet.
That line is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
People who can register online are still encouraged to use that method.
“Leave the call slots available for those who cannot register online,” said Spitters.
The county is unable to plan that far in advance as they don’t know the size of the allotment they will be receiving from the state.
“Until we have confidence in the number of doses we get each week, we will only schedule appointments when we have the dose on hand,” said Somers.
“There’s an intent from the state to get us on a three-week advance notification on what our allocation will be,” he said, but that system is not up.
The county may also switch to posting newly available appointment dates at a set time to help those trying to get an appointment, said Spitters.
Roughly 10 percent of the population of the county has received at least one dose.
“Most states are in the 9 to 11 percent range. We all want to be moving faster but we are going at a rate that is comparable to the rest of the country,” said Spitters.
As the county waits for more vaccines, the COVID-19 numbers continue to decrease from their heights in December.
“We started this week with a small decrease in the case rate,” said Spitters, who added the two-week average daily case rate is now 173 cases per 100,000 people.
At least three of the four state metrics must continue decreasing for the region to stay in Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan.
Those metrics are COVID-19 case rate, COVID-19 hospitalizations, COVID-19 positive test rate and hospital occupancy.
Spitters said the outlook is positive right now for the region, as most data points are coming back as improving.
“I would be surprised if there’s any move back at this point,” he said.
He added that now was not the time to ease up though.
“The absolute level of transmission is still high,” said Spitters, and the case rate is still higher than it was at any point in the spring or summer.
“It’s easy to feel like we are on the other side of this, and in some ways we are with decreasing numbers and more vaccines arriving daily, but we cannot let up,” he said.