Larsen letter: Island County shortchanged on vaccine

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen sent the White House a letter complaining about the lack of of local supply.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen sent the White House a letter last week complaining about Island County being “shortchanged” in vaccine allocations.

The Democratic congressman, who represents the Second Congressional District, explained that the federal government contracted with CVS and Walgreen’s to vaccinate residents of long-term care facilities.

But the national pharmacy chains are not participating or cannot meet demand in providing vaccinations in rural areas like Island County.

As a result, it has fallen to the Island County health district and local providers to vaccinate residents of the county’s nine adult family and nursing homes.

Since the state does not account for this in calculating county-level allocations, “other high-priority residents of Island County were shortchanged,” Larsen’s letter states.

“Counties should receive a compensatory allocation of vaccines if a lack of local chain pharmacies required them to supply vaccines to long-term care facilities,” Larsen wrote, urging the Biden administration to give clear guidance to states to authorize allocations to these counties.

“These issues are not unique to my district,” the letter states, “but inequality in local communities is exacerbated when inefficient vaccine distribution hobbles economic recovery.”

Larsen also asked that the federal government give states more advanced notice of vaccine allocation, as well more vaccines.

The letter was sent to Jeff Zients, counselor to the president and coordinator of the White House coronavirus response.

Last week, the state reported that 8,200 Island County residents have been vaccinated, which is a lower per capita rate than most other counties even though Island County has twice as many elderly people than average.