Island County opioid outreach team distributing COVID vaccines

The team has been highly successful despite challenges unique to their target population.

Island County Human Services has made significant headway in vaccinating people with substance use disorders against COVID-19.

Betsy Griffith, behavioral health supervisor, announced in a county Board of Health meeting May 18 that the opioid outreach team fully vaccinated 16 of the 86 individuals their group has had contact with as of April.

This may not sound like very many, Griffith said, but considering the challenges unique to people with substance use disorders that number represents a huge success.

“Our population is a little less likely to seek out traditional medical services, due to a variety of reasons,” Griffith told the Whidbey News-Times.

Many people with substance use disorders also experience homelessness, making them difficult to contact. Griffith said many members of this population were also nervous about receiving the vaccine and didn’t feel comfortable going to clinics or hospitals.

The outreach team employs an registered nurse qualified to administer vaccines so it was able to bring the shots to more familiar locations.

Working out of syringe exchange locations and SPiN Cafe, a food and resource center for the homeless, the outreach team got vaccines in the arms of 16 people with substance use disorders.

In addition to assisting in vaccination efforts, Griffith said in her update to the Board of Health that the outreach team distributed warm clothing to many people experiencing homelessness. She explained that many public places where people can warm up weren’t accessible during COVID-19 shutdowns.

The team also focused on distributing Narcan, a medicine used to treat opioid overdose.

More in News

Public feedback on proposed Port of Coupeville tax levy remains positive

The port will continue taking public comments through Oct. 22.

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times
“Island Spirit” is back home on Southeast Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor.
‘Island Spirit’ sculpture returns to Pioneer Way

The bronze statue had been missing since late 2019 when it was taken out in an accident.

Town of Coupeville to hold hearing on proposed utility rate hike on Sept. 28

Coupeville utility rates might be increasing soon, and the town council wants to hear your input.

Photo provided
This photo of bear tracks on the beach was captured near Randall Point in Clinton last week.
Tracks indicate bear may still be on island

The bear nicknamed “Whidbey the Pooh” appears to be sticking around longer than expected.

WhidbeyHealth Community Pharmacy opened in Coupeville on Sept. 21. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Hospital district opens new pharmacy in Coupeville

Coupeville hasn’t had a retail pharmacy in town since Linds Pharmacy closed more than six years ago.

Whidbey Island schools have seen only a few ‘devious licks’ copycats

A viral TikTok challenge has touched Whidbey, but the trend was short-lived.

Burn bans eased

A return to wet, cooler weather means campers and s’mores enthusiasts can spark up fires once again.

Shane Hoffmire, left, and Joel Servatius, right, are vying for a seat on Oak Harbor City Council. Hoffmire received Mayor Bob Severns’ first public endorsement of his political career over Servaitus, the incumbent.
Oak Harbor mayor endorses newcomer over incumbent

Bob Severns endorsed Shane Hoffmire, who is challenging Councilmember Joel Servatius in November.

A copy of City Attorney Grant Weed’s notice of his intent to terminate his contract with the city of Oak Harbor early. Weed and Assistant City Attorney and Public Records Officer Anna Thompson told the mayor the same day of their plans to stop working with the Oak Harbor.
Oak Harbor legal staff leaving, citing ‘compromised’ working relationships

The two key people in Oak Harbor’s legal department resigned from their positions on the same day.

Most Read