WENATCHEE, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has set up a mass vaccination site in Wenatchee.
"We’ve done about 3,217 vaccines up to this point and we’re scheduling 975 a day through Friday,” said Luke Davies, the health administrator for Chelan-Douglas counites.
So far, site officials said they’ve come up with an efficient system, giving as many doses of the Pfizer vaccine as possible based on the allotment from the state and federal government.
“We’ve scheduled it in such a way that we’re getting through about 97 cars, or people an hour,” said Davies.
“Tuesday of last week, we started out with 110 appointments to kind of test out the site, get our volunteers trained, get comfortable with the layout and then we quickly and rapidly scaled up our operations. We are currently at over 900 appointments a day,” said Cory Portner, the site leader with the state DOH. “This week, we’re working with 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.”
KING 5 spoke with several people receiving the vaccine at the site Wednesday, and they all said it’s been a challenge finding appointments to get doses.
“It was frustrating for us, but we were very fortunate,” said Chris Creek.
Creek and her husband became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine when the state moved into Phase 1B1, but finding an appointment seemed impossible.
“When we would look online it said there were places, but it kept saying there were none available, none available. So, we thought, ‘okay we’ll just have to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait,’” she explained.
Then she heard the DOH was opening the vaccination site at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee. She’s admittedly not very tech-savvy and relied on her daughter to find her and her husband a slot.
“She was able to schedule him for yesterday and me for today, but she was able to get us in and she was very excited about that and so were we,” Creek said.
She is like many others across the state, searching for appointments that are far and few between.
“I mean, that’s been the issue all along since December. When you have a very restricted supply chain and you’re trying to go through and distribute it equitably. It’s an incredible challenge," said Davies.
While doses are limited at this point, the site has the capacity to administer more doses when they are available.
“Every week we get a different allotment from the state that comes from the federal government and we’re working very closely to make sure that we schedule people appropriately as we move forward each week,” Davies said, “Right now, our plan is to keep moving with our mass vaccination site and also as more vaccine becomes available, get it to our partners in order to ensure that they are able to get hard to reach populations.”
The site has a waitlist system that’s prevented any doses from going to waste.
“We’ve had none, zero wastage here,” Portner said, “There’s not typically a lot of ‘no shows.’ We have really great attendance from folks, but if there is, if someone swings by and says, ‘hey I can’t make it for my appointment,’ we can remove their entry and it quickly fills up with someone from the waitlist.”
The site gives more people access to the vaccine, people like the Creeks.
Chris Creek told KING 5 they have barely seen their grandkids since the start of the pandemic.
“We had a fairly new granddaughter, we had to stay away from her. So, by the time we got around to see her she didn’t recognize us except for Facetime so she was very stand offish and that was very hard for us,” she said, “It just tears at your heart.”
But in 21 days, they’ll get their second dose and hopefully see their family soon.
“I am so thankful that they’re here on this distribution and it’s going to smoothly. And people, keep trying,” she said.