A Look Inside the EMS Drive-through Vaccination Clinic
In late December, nearly a year after the pandemic began, it was announced with great excitement that vaccinations against COVID-19 would begin in Washington state.
Due to availability, vaccines were administered using a phased approach that allowed for healthcare workers and first responders to be the first group of people to receive the vaccine. This strategic approach ensured that our healthcare systems remained unburdened by keeping our healthcare workers and first responders healthy so that they would be able to continue to provide care to sick people.
EMS drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Fire Training Center
When it came to coordinating a location to begin administering the vaccines, the Fire Training Center was graciously offered up as a drive-through location for those who qualified to receive the vaccine. Spokane Regional Health, Spokane County EMS and the Trauma Care Council stepped up to the plate to train EMS personnel on administering the Moderna vaccine. In addition to training, SRHD trained the group on their drive-through model and ensured the clinic was supplied with vaccine and personal protective equipment.
Led by Mike Lopez and Kasey Austin with the Spokane Fire Department, the EMS personnel braved wind, rain, snow, and freezing temperatures over the course of ten days in the first part of January to administer over 2,500 first-dose vaccines to frontline healthcare workers and first responders. To facilitate the complete vaccination of those who received their first dose, they hosted second dose-only clinics for eight days.
Dr. Velazquez getting vaccinated at the EMS drive-thru vaccination clinic
The seamless success of the clinic even garnered interest from other counties that began to employ similar drive-through methods for distributing vaccinations to healthcare workers and first responders across the state. n February, the Deputy Commander, Oscar Torres, from the United States Marshals Services Office DC, called Gavin Duffy, Eastern Washington’s US Marshal Chief and asked about clinic. Deputy Commander Torres then flew into Spokane, from Washington D.C., to tour the site to get a better understanding of the best practices being used.
Currently, this same EMS team is partnering with Community Assistance Response teams (CARES) to take our vaccine to those who are Homebound. They are vaccinating people, one house at a time.
Though there has been much confusion and frustration in the last year, it’s victories like the drive-through clinic, and now the homebound outreach that help bring us a step closer to getting back to normal.