Covid-19 vaccine arrives in Washington this week

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Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Washington state on December 14, bringing about 62,400 doses this week and potentially 222,000 before the end of the year, according to a Washington state Department of Health news release.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved nationwide on December 12 and by press time the Moderna vaccine was expected to have its FDA application reviewed December 17. If approved, Moderna could provide 183,000 vaccines by the end of the month, according to a Whatcom County Health Department news release.

The state had received 20,475 doses as of noon on December 15, according to the state department of health.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know about the vaccines,” the state’s health officer Kathy Lofy said in the news release. “We don’t know how many people will be vaccinated statewide or when vaccine will be widely available. We also don’t know how long the vaccine’s protection will last.”

The vaccine will be administered in two phases in Washington. In phase 1, high-risk healthcare workers, high-risk first responders and people living and working in long-term care facilities will be the first to be vaccinated. An estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people statewide fall into this category, the department of health said on its website. Vaccinations distributed through pharmacies and healthcare providers will begin in phase 2.

Covid-19 vaccine providers will enter immunization records into the Washington State Immunization Information System, which will help the state and county health department understand the number of people vaccinated in an area, according to the county health department website.

The Pfizer vaccine will be given in two doses that are 21 days apart, according to the state department of health. Someone who receives this vaccine is considered 95 percent protected seven days after the second dose but will not be considered fully protected until up to two weeks later, the department of health said.

Washingtonians are urged by the department of health to continue wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands frequently to continue flattening the infection curve. 

The state department of health asks people to do their part to minimize the spread of Covid-19 during the holiday season and recommends alternatives to traditional holiday gatherings such as celebrating virtually with online cookie decorating, caroling, holiday movie watch parties, outdoor activities like hiking, baking at home and doorstep deliveries for gifts and baked goods.

As of December 14, Whatcom County has had 2,936 confirmed cases and 52 deaths, according to the state department of health. In total, 165 people have been hospitalized from the virus in Whatcom County. Washington state has had 205,069 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic and 2,953 of those people have died from the virus. The state has had 12,773 people hospitalized from the virus.

For more information on the vaccine, visit doh.wa.gov/emergencies/covid19/vaccine. Learn more at the Washington State Department of Health’s Covid-19 data dashboard at bit.ly/3r2URJj.

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