SRHD COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic for First Responders
Media Contact: Kelli Hawkins | email@example.com | (509) 324-1539, c (509) 994-8968
Spokane, Wash. – The Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) begins administering the COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna, on Mon., Jan. 4, 2021, to first responders at a drive-through vaccination clinic set up at the Spokane Fire Training Center.
The clinic is only open to high-risk first responders, following Wash. State Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 Vaccination guidance for Phase 1A allocation. Phase 1A allows for vaccination of licensed emergency medical service frontline staff (fire, ambulance, etc.) to receive the vaccine. Eligible EMS personnel in Spokane County received information from their leads to sign up for the clinic.
In coordination with SRHD, the Spokane County EMS and Trauma Care Council will train EMS personnel on the vaccine’s administration process while at the same time, ensuring the high-risk group receives the anticipated vaccine. A trial-run of the clinic was performed yesterday, allowing for SRHD’s first vaccination of a first responder to take place. Tom Chavez of Spokane County Fire District 8 and Spokane Fire Department’s Kasey Austin received the first doses, respectively.
“It’s important to the health of our entire community that our first responders are able to help those in need without risking their own health and well-being,” said Dr. Francisco Velazquez, interim health officer for Spokane County. “Transitioning vaccinations from high-risk health care providers to first responders is a huge step in our COVID-19 vaccination process.”
Public health experts explained that future phases of administering the COVID-19 vaccination rely on having a healthy medical system and healthy medical professionals who can continue providing care to those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and who can contribute to the vaccination efforts.
SRHD is working closely with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), following their COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan as well as the vaccine distribution plan created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These plans guide local and federal planning efforts, listing out each step in the vaccine distribution process.
The health district’s current role is to support providers who will be approved for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine during Phase 1. They are also working directly with community partners to prepare for future phases when more vaccine options are available. Those partners may change in the coming weeks and months as more is learned about future vaccine availability.
To carry out this work, SRHD has created both a COVID-19 vaccine task force and an advisory group. The purpose of these bodies is to plan for future phases of the rollout and to work with community partners, social agencies and healthcare systems to ensure a coordinated effort. SRHD has experience in successfully managing mass vaccination efforts during past epidemics including H1N1, mumps, measles and hepatitis A in a wide range of situations and scenarios. Past practices are currently being reviewed and revised to best meet the distribution needs of the COVID-19 vaccines.
It is important to understand that vaccines will be distributed to different organizations according to which distribution phase Wash. state is in and which organizations are prepared (see FAQ for more).
“The COVID-19 vaccination is not available to the general public at this time,” explained Velazquez. “Eventually, everyone who wants the vaccine will be able to have it, but at this time we must all continue to follow the health measures to help prevent further spread of the virus. The end is in sight, but we must remain vigilant.”
Photo: Kasey Austin, Spokane Fire Department, administered the Moderna vaccine to Spokane County Fire District 8’s Tom Chavez at the Spokane Fire Training Center on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, as they prepared to open a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinic for first responders.