Submitted by Thurston County

Hello Thurston County! This week I wanted to focus on the COVID-19 vaccine. There are two vaccines approved for use made by Pfizer and Moderna. They are both mRNA vaccines. mRNA is harmless and easily destroyed by our cells but it gives cells the instructions needed to make a spike protein of the COVID-19 virus. The body then identifies the protein as foreign and mounts an immune response to it. These vaccines have been found to be safe in phase three clinical trials and effective providing 94-95% protection from developing COVID-19 disease. Individuals who did get COVID-19 during the trials had less severe illness. These vaccines do not use live virus and the mRNA stays outside of the nucleus where our DNA (genetic material) is located.

These vaccines bring great hope to our community! We have more than 290,000 people in our county and getting the vaccine to those who need it is an ongoing process. We will need to do this in phases, prioritizing those at highest risk both of getting COVID-19 as well as those who have the greatest potential for severe disease. These phases are also necessary due to the available supply of vaccine.

While supply is limited now, ultimately there will be enough vaccine for everyone who needs it. Currently, in Washington State, we are providing the vaccine to those who are eligible in phase 1A and phase 1B Tier 1. Phase 1A is for high-risk health care workers, high-risk medical first responders, those who work and live in long-term care facilities, and all health care workers. Phase 1B Tier 1 is for all people 65 years and older and people 50 years and older who live in multigenerational households. There has been some confusion about eligibility in the 50 years and older multigenerational household. This would include people who can’t live independently and receive support from a relative or home caregiver, or being cared for by someone who worked outside the home and people who live with and care for a young child, along the lines of a grandparent with a grandchild. This groups doesn’t include an older adult who is able to live independently and is taking care of their own children.

Currently, we are experiencing a limited supply of the vaccine in our county compared to the number of people who are now eligible to receive the vaccine. Based on the current projections it will likely take us several months to be able to get the majority of those in Phase 1A and Phase 1B Tier 1 who want the vaccine, vaccinated. Please be patient! We are working in conjunction with community partners to distribute the vaccine as quickly as it becomes available.

Many are asking, how do I get the vaccine?

  • Washington State’s Phase Finder online tool can confirm your eligibility and provide you with a list of possible vaccination locations.
  • Please do not call your healthcare provider to see if they have the vaccine. Healthcare provider phone systems are being inundated with calls about the vaccine availability and this is making it difficult for them to triage emergent patient calls. We encourage you to check your healthcare provider’s website for information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • You can check the Thurston County Public Health and Social Services COVID-19 website, vaccine page for additional information on the vaccine and for information on our planned mass vaccination sites, vaccine clinics, and events when they are available.

As we move forward in the vaccination efforts, Thurston County Public Health will continue to coordinate with partners to ensure everyone gets vaccinated in the appropriate phase as well as augment vaccination capacity and ensure equitable access. This is an exciting time and I will have many more updates to come.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dimyana Abdelmalek, MD, MPH

Health Officer, Thurston County

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