Mass vaccination site opens March 5 in Snohomish County
Next group anticipated for eligibility includes grocery workers
Last updated 3/18/2021 at 5:35am
A new site and supply of the newest vaccine are part of the speeding train leading to the light at the end of the tunnel: the pandemic's end.
Two challenges to the momentum for the COVID-19 vaccination effort were met with the addition of a new mass vaccination site in Everett, announced by the Snohomish County Joint Information Commission on March 5. More groups were made eligible to get shots this week.
The new site is at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, opened March 5 by appointment with a supply of 5,000 doses of J&J, the newest emergency-use vaccine to combat COVID-19.
Eligible people can schedule an appointment at the new site: https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/clinic/search.
The J&J vaccine requires one dose instead of two. Pfizer and Moderna are still available at other sites, with both requiring one shot and one booster. Some reports have called J&J the lesser of the three options, but the science and its officials focus on the end-game.
"The best vaccine is the one that you're able to get," said Jason Biermann, director of emergency management for the county.
Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer for the Snohomish Health District, detailed the data on all three shots in a March 5 online Town Hall. He said once full immunity is achieved, J&J is comparable to other vaccines in preventing the top concerns for COVID-19: hospitalization and death for those who suffer severe illness.
Most people do not suffer severe illness, but preventing hospitalizations and death is key to ending the pandemic. Health officials have repeatedly mentioned hospital capacity as a focus in prevention efforts. Overfilled hospitals put everyone at risk, even those who need care for car wrecks and heart attacks when health professionals are distracted by COVID-19. Infectious illness can move quickly and exponentially, from one person to all contacts and from those contacts to all the people they touch, breathe on, and share space with. Variants to COVID-19 are slightly more infectious than previous versions.
Snohomish County hospitals were caring for 25 COVID-19 patients with four on ventilators, as of March 5, Spitters said. So while the infection rates are improving due to prevention efforts and vaccinations, spread can recur "as quickly as it disappeared" without the ongoing efforts toward prevention.
When the pandemic ends, people will be free to join with family, or even go to lunch with a friend, said Cassie Frankin, Everett Mayor. Officials say to get there faster, it's important to buckle down and commit to the same pandemic habits as before: masks, social distance, hand-washing, and maintaining a social bubble that has as few people as possible. Outdoor interactions are safer than indoor, due to the spread of COVID-19 through tiny germ-carrying droplets called "aerosols" that spread when people talk or breathe, and spread more robustly when they sing or yell.
Health officials continue to encourage vigilance and anticipate all eligible adults will be vaccinated by end-of-May. Supply levels continue to be a challenge, but Spitters and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said the county is pushing for change in that arena.
"We're always the squeaky wheel," Spitters said.
Eligibility is still required before an appointment is available. J&J requires only one appointment. Pfizer and Moderna require two.
Spitters said if someone cannot access two shots within the recommended window of time for each treatment – within 21 days for Pfizer, 28 for Moderna – the data shows good efficacy within a six-week time-frame for both.
For the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, two shots are required. The recommendation for Pfizer is a second shot within 21 days; for Moderna it is a second shot within 28 days. If an appointment cannot be accessed within that window of time, Spitters said data is still pointing toward immunity for those who must wait longer.
"That can go out as far as six weeks at least," Spitters said. "If it extends beyond six weeks, you do not need to restart the series. Six weeks is an appropriate goal, because that's the data that's known in (researchers') experience with antibodies and cases."
But the low recurrence for COVID-19 shows that vaccination, at all, has a protective effect.
The Beacon has an explainer posted March 5 on the newest groups who are free to schedule appointments: https://bit.ly/38bndcE.
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