COVID vaccine drive thru

A drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic that opened last week in Monroe at The Evergreen State Fairgrounds. A similar site is planned to open near Stanwood in the coming days or weeks.

A drive-thru mass vaccination site opened Friday at the Arlington Municipal Airport, likely the closest a large clinic will get to Stanwood.

The site is on an unused runway at Arlington Municipal Airport and is serving eligible people in Phases 1A and 1B1. People can sign up and check eligibility through the Snohomish Health District vaccine appointment site. Those with limited or no internet access, or who need language support, can call the local COVID-19 call center at 425-339-5278.

The Arlington site is expected to continue operating as long as doses are available, health officials said.

"While exact capacity at the site will vary, hundreds of vaccines can be administered there per day," according to a news release from the Health District. "Appointments at all of the sites have been booking rapidly. There is still much higher demand for COVID vaccine than doses available."

Like the three other Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce sites, the Arlington location is by appointment for those who live and work in Snohomish County, and is for those who are eligible in the current phase. 

“Working with our partners from around the county, we are committed to making sure everybody who wants the COVID vaccine has that opportunity,” Snohomish County Emergency Management Director Jason Biermann said. “Our team’s goal is to safely and equitably deliver vaccine doses as rapidly as possible. We ultimately expect to support enough drive-thru and walk-in mass vaccination sites that 50,000 doses can be delivered to residents each week, depending on vaccine supply.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine is being administered at the Arlington site by local EMS staff from the Snohomish County Fire Taskforce, which includes personnel from North COunty Fire & EMS in Stanwood. The other drive-thru sites — Paine Field in Everett, Edmonds College and the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe — are currently administering the Moderna vaccine. 

According to CDC guidelines, individuals should receive two doses of the Moderna vaccine at least 28 days apart. The Pfizer vaccine should be two doses at least 21 days apart. The second dose should be as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if that is not feasible, the second dose may be up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first. Even if the second dose is delayed somewhat beyond these recommended intervals, there is no need to restart the series and both doses count.

North County Fire & EMS chief John Cermak said the Arlington site works well in part because it can handle thousands of cars a day without clogging city streets and blocking access to businesses. 

"A traffic plan already exists for the site because of large events like the annual Arlington Fly-In," Cermak said. "I think this site will best help us get needles in as many arms as possible. We just need to get more vaccine now."

Countywide, more than 48,000 vaccines —  including both first and second doses — have been administered, according to the Health District data as of Jan. 23. 

“It is great that so many people are wanting to get vaccinated, and we appreciate the leadership of the Department of Emergency Management and other partners across Snohomish County coming together to make that possible,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “As we’ve shared, it will likely take a couple of months to work through Phase 1B1. We’re only a week or so in, but things are starting to pick up speed.”

The mass drive-thru clinics are part of a larger vaccination effort that also includes dozens of other clinics and pharmacies in the area's healthcare system.

“When we receive an increased vaccine supply, we can continue to stand up mass vaccination sites, like the Arlington Airport site, to ensure we have the capacity to get everyone vaccinated,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said. “As the federal and state governments fix the vaccine supply problems, we have the ability to expand access quickly without further delays. The lack of vaccine supply is frustrating for all of us, and we will continue to advocate for more vaccines coming into the county to get everyone vaccinated.”

Even after being vaccinated, health experts said people should continue to wear a mask in shared spaces, avoid large gatherings, stay home if they feel ill, wash their hands, and clean and sanitize surfaces. It is important to keep up with preventive measures while work continues to vaccinate more people.

Camano clinic

Camano Island Fire & Rescue plans to operate a vaccination clinic at the Camano Center, and they expect to open the site as early as next week.

While CIFR is awaiting approval on their vaccination plan from Island County, officials tested the tentative plan and trained volunteers Monday by administering 50 doses.

“Once we get the vaccine, we need to have enough clinical and nonclinical volunteers to facilitate day-to-day operations, and enough training to make sure the whole process runs smoothly,” CIFR spokeswoman Bronlea Mishler said. 

Anyone interested in volunteering at the Camano site can email Pat Waters, the Island County Emergency Management volunteer coordinator, at p.waters@islandcountywa.gov.

When the site is operational, the plan is for residents to make appointments online at camanofire.com or over the phone.

“The message right now is to please have patience,” CIFR Chief Levon Yengoyan said. “We have already been inundated with so many phone calls.”

To determine eligibility and find vaccine clinics, visit FindYourPhaseWA.org or call 800-525-0127.

 

Contact reporter Evan Caldwell at ecaldwell@scnews.com and follow him on Twitter @Evan_SCN for updates throughout the week and on Instagram @evancaldwell.scn for more photos.

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