County Fairgrounds vaccinations will be discontinued soon
Due to a combination of reduced demand and a loss of federal funding, Mid-Valley Hospital is discontinuing its weekly Okanogan County fairgrounds vaccination events after this week.
“Demand for first doses has tapered to the point that we can incorporate the weekly vaccination volume through our normal outpatient clinic processes,” according to an email from Mid-Valley Hospital staff to the Methow Valley News.
Funding from the Federal Emergency Management Administration is set to run out on July 21, and Mid-Valley is also looking to alleviate some of the excess workload on staff who have been running the site.
Mid-Valley is still vaccinating 10 to 20 people per week.
“The typical process for receiving vaccinations is typically from your primary care provider so it makes sense to return to that model. Vaccinations will also be available for all patients seeking care and the hospital,” according to Mid-Valley.
Family Health Centers has also noticed a slow-down in demand.
“We’re recognizing a slowing of vaccine interest as is the rest of the county, but also see people coming in for vaccination who have previously not been interested,” said Dr. James Wallace, Okanogan County health officer and chief health officer at Family Health Centers. “Many people are seeing unvaccinated loved ones fall ill and have scary ‘close calls’ and spread through families, workplaces and other organizations, and realizing this can be prevented.”
Family Health Centers locations are vaccinating 100 to 125 people per week at all of its locations and continue to host vaccination clinics for agricultural workers in Brewster, though on a smaller scale than earlier clinics. This spring, Family Health Centers was vaccinating hundreds of ag workers at a time at these events, and is now seeing 50 to 75 patients at each event, said Julie Wehmeyer, employee health and infection control manager at Family Health Centers.
Brewster is still the best vaccinated ZIP code in the county, according to Okanogan County Public Health, with 77% of its population fully vaccinated. Winthrop comes in at 69%, Mazama is at 57% and Twisp at 55%.
According to the state Department of Health, 39,796 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in Okanogan County. The county’s percentage of its total population to be fully vaccinated has inched up to 47% as of Monday (July 19), and the population of people above 12 years old, the only people eligible to get vaccinated at this time, is 55.9%.
While many residents are vaccinated, the unvaccinated are still at risk for contracting COVID-19. People with cold symptoms should still get tested for COVID-19, providers said.
“We have had quite a few patients present with nasal congestion and a runny nose, and they have tested positive for COVID-19,” Wehmeyer said.
The county’s case rate is at a low not seen since fall of last year, Wallace said.
“Testing is the best way to know where and how it’s spreading and FHC continues to offer both rapid and PCR-based testing to anyone across the county,” he said.
Information on where to get vaccines each week is available at https://okanogancountycovid19.org/covid-19-vaccine.