Dr. Umair Shah said the federal supply of the COVID vaccine is a big challenge.
The Washington State Secretary of Health toured Spokane’s mass vaccination site at the Spokane Arena Tuesday afternoon.
During Dr. Umair Shah’s visit, he had a clear message that Washingtonians are not out of the woods just yet. He said the federal supply of the COVID vaccine is a big challenge. This week there were 358,000 first doses and there’s only been about 100,000 or so allotted, he said. The federal government is now providing supply information three weeks in advance, before it was only two days, Shah said.
“There’s not enough supplies to go around, so when you have supplies that you give into certain sectors or certain community providers invariably you have less that would be going elsewhere,” he said. “So again, while the administration at the federal level has given us this two, three weeks of information, we still haven’t seen a significant increase in the numbers of vaccines coming in that’s going to be the driver to get vaccines out to more providers.”
Shah also discussed something new the state is now incorporating to help streamline vaccine appointments.
“The vax center is really about public, private partnership,” Shah said. “We brought in private sector know how and harnessing the power of private sector to help us with many of our operations that are going to really increase our communication but also our though put in many of these mass vaccinations or other kinds of efforts throughout the communities in Washington.”
As for when the state hopes to vaccinate the general public, Shah said they are hopefully that will happen by spring or early summer. For rural regions of the state, Shah said he is hopeful that different vaccination options will make a difference, like the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
“If it’s a community where you have to really go out two or three hours to get to and then vaccinate, you may want4 to be using that kind of vaccine in that kind of setting because it’s harder to go back for a second dose,” Shah said.
He said for smaller communities, it could mean reaching out to local health departments and pharmacies.
“More precise with how do we get to communities that are disproportionately impacted or that are not getting vaccinated or not able to get vaccinated or not feeling like they should get vaccinated, they’re hesitating,” he said.
Shah’s next stop is the vaccination site in the Tri-Cities.