On the first day Skagit County Public Health offered the COVID-19 vaccine to the general public Tuesday, 244 received their first dose.

Julie de Losada, site manager of the county’s vaccine clinic at the Skagit County Fairgrounds, said vaccinations will continue throughout the week, and more appointments will be scheduled as more doses arrive.

Since Jan. 20, the county has been taking appointments for those 65 and older, and those 50 and older who live in multigenerational homes.

In the weeks prior, de Losada said clinic staff had been vaccinating first responders and health care workers, and the chance to test the system on those smaller crowds “paid off in spades” Tuesday.

“It was a smashing success,” she said.

About 10 people didn’t show up for their appointments Tuesday, which de Losada said is likely because they were vaccinated elsewhere. However, because staff were able to reach out to unvaccinated first responders or clinic volunteers, not a single dose was wasted.

Because the size of the county’s next vaccine shipment is unknown, Public Health is currently making no new appointments.

De Losada said there has been a lack of consistency week to week in the number of doses the county receives, and she can’t say how many she expects next week.

“We don’t have a guarantee that we’ll know more by Friday, but we want to get something out to the public by noon Friday,” she said of passing along what is know about future shipments.

Once appointments are again available, those eligible for the vaccine can go to skagitcounty.net and click on “vaccine and vaccination site information.”

Also, appointments will be taken over the phone at 360-416-1500 from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Both statewide and nationally, the vaccine distribution process is improving, and de Losada said she expects more consistency in two to three weeks.

Small adjustments had to be made at the clinic throughout the day Tuesday because staff didn’t anticipate those with appointments would arrive together and would want to remain so while waiting to get vaccinated.

“We were able to make space and still keep everyone distant,” de Losada said.

She said older residents, who are at higher risk of getting a severe case of COVID-19, have been weathering the pandemic together for nearly a year, and it was emotional to finally offer them some security.

“It was really endearing to see people come as couples,” de Losada said. “To see the relief in their eyes, they want to know there’s hope.”

She said the clinic wouldn’t be able to function without its volunteers.

Twenty-one medical volunteers were on hand Tuesday, between the vaccination clinic and the testing site on the other side of the fairgrounds, she said, and others worked to direct traffic or assist those with mobility issues.

Those interested in volunteering can call the county Department of Emergency Management at 360-416-1850.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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