Whatcom County Covid-19 vaccine and testing roundup




PeaceHealth spokesperson Hilary Andrade said PeaceHealth still hasn’t received the number of vaccines it's requested from the state. This week, the state notified PeaceHealth that it would receive one-third of the first-dose Pfizer allocations it received the previous week and a few hundred second doses of Moderna. “Every week is a different scenario,” she said.

James Bochsler, vice president and medical director of PeaceHealth Medical Group, Northwest, said in an email that PeaceHealth has the ability to vaccinate 1,000 people per day.

PeaceHealth requests vaccines from the state every Monday, to be used for the following week. By mid-week, the state tells the provider the number of vaccines it is expected to receive but the allotment is not official until the end of the week, Bochsler said.

Andrade said PeaceHealth is not expected to administer any Johnson and Johnson vaccine because they have the capability to administer the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine.

“Though we do not expect to administer the Johnson and Johnson vaccine immediately, we are preparing operationally to do so if needed in the future,” Andrade wrote in an email.

PeaceHealth will start a self-scheduling tool later this month, according to a PeaceHealth statement.

PeaceHealth also scheduled 500 vaccine appointments last week for eligible farmworkers and laborers, with several hundred more appointments to be scheduled this week, Andrade said. Spanish, Russian, Punjabi and Mandarin translators helped people during the vaccine clinic.


Blaine teachers and staff start vaccinations

Blaine school district teachers and staff started receiving vaccinations within 24 hours of Inslee saying all childcare workers were eligible for vaccinations, superintendent Christopher Granger said.

Granger said teachers and staff are getting vaccinated individually and through group vaccinations from about four vaccine providers, including PeaceHealth and Hoagland Pharmacy in Bellingham. Granger said the school district isn’t keeping track of the percentage of vaccinated employees because collecting employee health information could  be considered a HIPAA violation.

Vaccinations are still optional for public school employees and Granger said, adding that he doesn’t anticipate the state changing that decision.


Blaine’s DHS sector vaccinates over 700 personnel

About 720 Blaine Department of Homeland Security personnel – including homeland security, office of field operations and homeland security investigators – have been vaccinated, CBP spokesperson Jason Givens said in an email. The employees were vaccinated in a large-scale vaccine clinic at the Peace Arch port of entry on March 5 and at a previous vaccine event, Givens said. Vaccinations were administered by CBP, border patrol and special response EMTs with guidance from CBP chief medical officer Dr. David Tarantino. CBP officers and border patrol agents are eligible for vaccinations under the CDC’s phase 1a and phase 1b categories, Givens said.


State will not consider delaying second dose

DOH said in an email to The Northern Light that it will not consider delaying a second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, similar to what B.C. and the U.K. have done to vaccinate a greater number of people quicker.

“There are no plans to change our framework at this time,” said DOH spokesperson Shelby Anderson. “We will continue to look to the CDC for guidance.”

Anderson said the state still recommends the Pfizer second dose be given 21 days after the first shot and the Moderna second dose given 28 days after its first dose. If getting a second dose is not possible at that time, both vaccines can be scheduled for their second dose up to 42 days after the first dose. Second doses can still be given after this time but research is limited on the vaccine’s effectiveness.

A spokesperson for the Whatcom County Health Department also said in an email that the county health department can’t permit vaccine providers to delay the second dose and that all enrolled providers must follow the CDC’s vaccine guidelines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci told The Washington Post in a March 1 article titled “Fauci: U.S. must stick with two-shot strategy for Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna vaccines” that the U.S. did not have plans to change its scheduling for the two vaccines.

The CDC updated its guidelines on March 8 to allow fully vaccinated individuals to gather indoors with others who have been fully vaccinated without wearing a mask.


Saturday Covid-19 testing ends in Lynden

The Covid-19 test site at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden has stopped operating on Saturdays, according to a Whatcom County Health Department announcement.

“Since the Covid-19 testing site in Bellingham opened, usage of the testing site in Lynden has dropped,” said Cindy Hollinsworth, the health department’s communicable disease manager, in a media release. “By reducing staffing needs at the Lynden testing site, we can reassign staff to bolster other parts of our Covid-19 response, including vaccination efforts.”

The Lynden testing site will be open four days per week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The Bellingham airport testing location, which opened in late February, is open seven days per week.

There are 14 healthcare providers in Whatcom County that offer Covid-19 testing, according to the health department website. The health department’s website provides information on who can get tested by each provider, if an appointment is needed, provider contact information and additional information people seeking testing should know.

For more information on Covid-19 testing in Whatcom County, visit bit.ly/3t73GlH.


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