COVID-19 vaccine Q&A
Contact: Carey Guhlke-Falk
Lincoln Hospital and Clinics’ staff continue to vaccinate individuals who qualify for the COVID-19 vaccination as supplies are received. Currently, the state is still in Phase 1B Tier 1 of vaccine distribution. This means anyone 65 and older, and all people 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household qualify to be vaccinated. Individuals in phase 1A, including healthcare workers, first responders, and those who live and work in long-term care facilities, are also being actively vaccinated. However, this does not mean everyone who qualifies has been able to access the vaccine.
The hospital district is working tirelessly to acquire and distribute vaccine as quickly and efficiently as possible. An average of 100 vaccines per week has been sent since mid-January, but each week the demand and number of people who qualify far outweighs the number of vaccines available.
The hospital district plans to start hosting a vaccine tracker on their website that will let community members know what phase we are currently in, the number of total vaccines received, the number of vaccines received at the most recent distribution, the total number of vaccinations given, and the number of vaccinations given at the most recent vaccination clinic. This will include details about booster doses.
However, rumors and misconceptions about how the vaccine is being distributed continue to spread. This Q&A has been developed in an effort to accurately inform the community about the vaccine and the distribution process:
How do I know if I qualify to receive the vaccine? The Washington State Department of Health has a Phase Finder Tool that walks individuals through a series of questions to identify what phase of the distribution plan they qualify for. The tool can be found at www.findyourphasewa.org .
I heard there’s a waiting list. How do I get on it? Lincoln Hospital and Clinics does have a waiting list and encourages community members to call to be placed on the waiting list. Those who currently qualify to be vaccinated according to the state’s distribution plan will be prioritized. Individuals who qualify for future phases can call to be placed on the list and will be called to make an appointment when the state has approved moving on to those phases. Call 509-725-7501 to sign up. You will be asked a series of questions by staff to identify your phase. Please be patient with our staff as they have been inundated with phone calls about this.
If I’m on the list and qualify, am I guaranteed to get the vaccine right away? Unfortunately, no. The need for vaccine far outweighs the supply that is being sent. As vaccine comes in, those on the list are being called to schedule a time at a vaccine clinic.
What is the process once I’m on the list? Once your phase has been identified and you are on the list, you will be called by our staff to schedule an appointment at one of our vaccine clinics as soon as we are in the correct phase and there is supply available.
I heard you are withholding vaccine, is that true? Absolutely not. Our primary goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible with the supply we have. However, we do have to manage our supply to account for the booster dose (second required dose) so the vaccine is as effective as possible for those individuals. This can be a difficult balance when we aren’t sure how many vaccines we will be sent from week to week.
Am I able to get vaccinated somewhere else? Yes, you can be vaccinated at other vaccine locations, but many other locations are also experiencing a limit in their supply. If you do get vaccinated somewhere else, please contact your primary care provider to let them know you received the vaccine. Unfortunately, not all vaccine sites are recording the vaccination in the state-wide vaccine database that informs healthcare providers what vaccines you’ve received. This could have potentially harmful health implications if you later have a reaction to the vaccine or other health issues and it is unknown if you received the COVID-19 vaccination. All vaccines administered through the Lincoln Hospital and Clinics site are being recorded in our patient’s health records.
The health department is also giving out vaccines. Are you working together? Lincoln Hospital and Clinics and the Lincoln County Health Department have the common goal of getting our communities vaccinated as quickly as possible and are working together as much as possible. We have been working on vaccinating our employees and those over the age of 65. The health department has focused on first responders and at-risk populations they’ve identified to keep our community running smoothly. Because of this, we have been distributing our supplies separately. Like other healthcare systems, Lincoln Hospital and Clinics is held accountable to the state’s distribution plan and would be at risk of having our already limited supply restricted if we do not follow it. We recognize this is confusing for community members who may have heard about someone being vaccinated who does not currently qualify according to the distribution plan. We have always had an excellent working relationship with the health department and we look forward to ways we can work together to keep our communities healthy.
What happens at the vaccine clinic? Once you have been put on the waiting list and have received a phone call from our staff to schedule an appointment, you will have the date and place of the vaccine clinic where you will receive the COVID-19 vaccine. You will arrive at the location (so far, they have been hosted at Memorial Hall in Davenport, but this is subject to change), fill out patient information, and will be taken behind a privacy screen to receive the vaccination. After you have received the vaccination, you will be asked to sit in an observation area for 15 to 30 minutes – depending on your health history - where a staff member will observe you for any reactions to the vaccine. You will then be scheduled to receive your booster shot 4 weeks later.
Why aren’t you holding vaccine clinics in other locations like Reardan and Wilbur? We wish we could. Unfortunately, we do not have the vaccine supply available to do so. There are also other factors such as the ability to store the vaccine in cold enough storage, staffing availability, and logistics of setting up clinics following COVID-19 protocol. For now, the most efficient way of distributing the vaccine to people county-wide is to have them travel to Davenport for the vaccine clinic. We hope we will have enough vaccine in the near future to make vaccine clinics happen in other locations.