Vaccination rate will need a booster to meet goal set by state

Island County had received fewer vaccines, per capita, than most other counties while the county has a higher-than-average number of elderly people.

A lot more COVID-19 vaccines will have to be shot into arms each week on Whidbey Island for the community to reach the state’s goal of an 80 percent vaccination rate by Aug. 31.

But Don Mason, Island County’s COVID response manager, said the county is more than ready for the challenge and the only roadblock is getting enough doses from the state.

“We have providers in place who can administer any reasonable amount of the vaccine that the state provides,” he said.

In a report to the county commissioners this week, he pointed out that 1,562 doses would need to be administered each week on Whidbey, from this coming Monday until the end of August, to meet the goal. Camano Island would need 389 doses a week.

That represents a significant increase over current levels. Last week, 1,181 doses were administered on Whidbey and Camano combined.

According to the state COVID-19 dashboard, 17.6 percent of Island County residents and 18.4 percent of state residents have been vaccinated so far. Only 1.4 percent of Island County’s population has tested positive for the virus while 4.2 percent of the state as a whole has.

The number of COVID-related deaths in the county recently jumped from 22 to 26, which means 2 percent of the total number of cases resulted in death. In the state, only 1.5 percent of COVID cases have resulted in death.

Island County Public Health reported Feb. 19 that the first case of the U.K. strain of the virus was detected in the county.

Elected officials in the county complained to Gov. Jay Inlee’s office earlier this month about a few issues related to the pandemic, including the officials’ belief that the county has been shortchanged in terms of vaccines.

The county had received fewer, per capita, than most other counties while the county has a higher-than-average number of elderly people.

In a written response to the members of the county’s Council of Governments, a spokesperson for the governor wrote that the concerns about vaccine equity were shared with the Department of Health.

“DOH balances a number of factors in determining distribution of vaccine, including input from local health jurisdictions and several models to allocate vaccine doses,” the letter states.

“The main models are the social vulnerability index and the prioritization recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (AICP).”

Other drivers for the allocation, he wrote, are the number of people at a high risk, county size, previous first and second dose allocations, and provider feedback and orders.

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