Island Hospital gave its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 81 health care providers this past Thursday and expects to have most of its providers vaccinated this week.

Dr. Rachel Mank, an emergency room physician, was the first at the hospital to receive the vaccine.

“I am super grateful to be vaccinated,” Mank said as she waited on a numbered chair, set up for the 15-minute precautionary observance after receiving a dose. Those who receive a vaccine are encouraged to download the app “V-safe,” which can be used to report any side effects and to set a reminder to get the second dose.

The hospital was scheduling three more days of vaccinations this week for health care providers across Fidalgo Island who meet qualifications for the first phase of distribution.

Meanwhile, another Island Hospital staff member tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, bringing the total to 13 since March. As of Monday, the hospital also admitted four more patients, bringing that total to 34.

As of Monday night, Skagit County had reached 41 deaths and almost 200 patients hospitalized since March.

The county has reported 3,184 confirmed cases, with one-third of those since Dec. 1. There were 253 positive cases reported in the 10 days since Christmas.

The doses given Thursday were provided by Skagit County Public Health. Island Hospital expects its first state allotment this week, enough to give first doses to around 400 more health care providers, enough to cover all of the hospital’s clinical, medical and patient-facing staff by week’s end, spokesperson Laura Moroney said Monday.

There was plenty of excitement for the first round last week, which happened to fall on New Year’s Eve. A music playlist set a joyful tone with tracks like “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Here Comes the Sun” as medical personnel arrived to receive doses at three vaccination stations.

Anita McCoy, director of quality, was one of the staff members giving vaccinations.

“It’s nice to finally get the vaccine into people,” she said. “It’s a good way to end the year.”

Phases

The Associated Press reported that as of Monday, more than 4.5 million people had been vaccinated out of more than 15 million doses the U.S. government has shipped to the states. But that falls well short of the 20 million goal the government intended to have done before 2021.

Distribution in Washington is taking a phased approach as vaccine doses become available. An interim plan updated Dec. 20 was put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The first group of Phase 1 includes all health care personnel and long-term care facility patients. The second group includes frontline essential workers and persons age 75 and older. The third includes people ages 65-74, people with high-risk medical conditions ages 16-64 and essential workers not previously eligible.

Phase 2 includes all people 16 and older not previously eligible. No COVID-19 vaccination has yet been authorized for children under age 16.

Island Hospital CEO Charles Hall has said the entire process to reach the majority of the public could take nine months and has urged people to remain patient and diligent about health safety protocols such as masks and social distancing.

The two vaccines so far with FDA authorization are made by Moderna and Pfizer.

Reporter

I cover health, environment, business and more at the Anacortes American. Feel free to send me tips at qinghram [at] goanacortes.com.

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