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Healthcare providers field storm of calls about COVID-19 vaccine

FERNDALE, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Health (WSDH) announced Monday, January 18th, those who qualified as “Phase 1B tier 1” would be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. This meant the vaccine, something that 9 months ago was considered impossible by some to make available so soon, would be available to anyone age 65 and older and anyone age 50 and older who live in a multigenerational household.

“Due to limited vaccine supply, we need to provide the vaccine in phases. We are starting with people who are most at risk such as healthcare workers, elders, vulnerable individuals, and high-risk critical workers.”

Washington State Department of Health Phase Finder Tool (January 20, 2021).

Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) said in an email Monday, “Health care providers in Whatcom County and WCHD are handling an increasingly demanding volume of calls with questions about vaccines.” They advised patients to visit their health care providers’ and pharmacists’ websites for information and updates rather than calling.

WSDH has published an online “Phase Finder Tool” that enables the public to determine which phase they will be eligible to receive a vaccination.

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Being eligible does not assure being able to be immediately vaccinated officials warn. According to WCHD on Monday, “Washington state currently has enough doses to vaccinate 100,000 people a week, but there are more than 1 million Washingtonians in the 1B Tier 1 group. In Whatcom County alone, there are just under 42,000 people aged 65 and older.”

“Shipments of doses to Whatcom County have varied from as little as 300 in a week to as much as 5,000, and that unpredictability has complicated planning efforts,” according to the WCHD email.

According to the WSDH Phase Finder Tool, “Everyone will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine over the coming months.”

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