San Juan County Vaccine Q&A

Posted January 8, 2021 at 4:30 am by

Contributed Image/CDC

Who Is Eligible Now, Who Is Next In Line and Where Can You Get Vaccinated?

From San Juan County

This week, Wash­ing­ton State Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee released details on a new two-phase plan for the lim­it­ed reopen­ing of some busi­ness­es and a return of some activ­i­ties. The details are found here

All coun­ties begin in Phase 1, which is very sim­i­lar to the restric­tions cur­rent­ly in place in San Juan Coun­ty (here are full details).

To move to Phase 2, a num­ber of met­rics must be met on a region­al basis. For San Juan Coun­ty, our region includes What­com, Skag­it and Island Coun­ties. Once in Phase 2, the same met­rics must be main­tained to avoid rolling back to Phase 1.

Some high­lights of Phase 2 include indoor din­ing at 25%, indoor fit­ness facil­i­ties at 25%, and a fur­ther loos­en­ing on restric­tions on sports. 

The met­rics will be cal­cu­lat­ed week­ly and will be dis­played on the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health Risk Assess­ment Dash­board. As of Jan. 7, this dash­board is not yet dis­play­ing the region­al metrics. 

At this time there are no details or plans avail­able for any reopen­ing beyond Phase 2. 

Q: Who is eligible for the vaccine now, and who is currently providing vaccinations in San Juan County?

Indi­vid­u­als who fall into Phase 1a are cur­rent­ly eli­gi­ble for vac­ci­na­tion. This group is lim­it­ed to health­care pro­fes­sion­als, emer­gency respon­ders, and staff and res­i­dents of nurs­ing homes and assist­ed liv­ing facilities. 

This guid­ance doc­u­ment from the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health pro­vides detailed infor­ma­tion about who falls into Phase 1a.

As of Jan. 6, the only provider of vac­cine to Phase 1a indi­vid­u­als in the islands is the San Juan Coun­ty Health & Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices vac­cine team. They are host­ing week­ly clin­ics on each of the islands and per­form­ing direct out­reach to Phase 1a eli­gi­ble orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als to sched­ule vac­cine delivery.

Q: Who is next in line?

On Jan. 6, the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health released guid­ance for Phase 1b and the four tiers with­in 1b. Here is a link to the new infor­ma­tion, and here is a link to a sim­ple graph­ic.

In short, the new eli­gi­bil­i­ty group­ing opens up access to the vac­cine to a much larg­er group of indi­vid­u­als that have been eli­gi­ble in Phase 1a.

Q: When will Phase 1b begin?

An exact date is impos­si­ble to know at this point, but a gen­er­al esti­mate is before the end of Jan­u­ary. Remem­ber though, that doesn’t mean that there will be enough vac­cine on hand to immu­nize every­one in Phase 1b right out of the gate. 

Fur­ther com­pli­cat­ing this ques­tion is that the vac­cine requires two dos­es. About the time Phase 1b opens, there will be a need to give sec­ond dos­es, 28 days after the first dose, to every­one who was vac­ci­nat­ed as part of the Phase 1b group. This will fur­ther com­pli­cate the sup­ply chain and deliv­ery issues.

Q: If I’m in Phase 1b, what can I expect, and what should I do now?

The real­i­ty is that there are still lots of unknowns. The two biggest ones are vac­cine avail­abil­i­ty, and the num­ber of providers in the islands who will be deliv­er­ing the vaccine.

There are some things we do know:

  • For some time to come, demand will be greater than supply.
  • Even when the vac­cine is avail­able, not every dose will be giv­en on the first day it is available.
  • To some degree, the sys­tem depends on peo­ple being hon­est about their eli­gi­bil­i­ty. And yes, clear­ly there will be indi­vid­u­als who break that trust, but the hope is that the vast major­i­ty of islanders will be respect­ful and truth­ful when it comes time for Phase 1b. While health­care providers will be eval­u­at­ing all requests to some extent, they do not have the time to be inves­ti­gat­ing every indi­vid­ual claim of eli­gi­bil­i­ty. Just like kinder­garten­ers lin­ing up for lunch, don’t cut the line.

At this time, indi­vid­u­als in Phase 1b should not con­tact the health depart­ment or their med­ical providers. There is no sign-up list. Wash­ing­ton Depart­ment of Health does have a tool to eval­u­ate eli­gi­bil­i­ty and to noti­fy indi­vid­u­als when it is their turn. The move to Phase 1b will be very well-pub­li­cized, includ­ing in local media and on the San Juan Coun­ty COVID-19 Vac­cine infor­ma­tion page

Over­all, the mes­sage to the pub­lic is please be patient. Just like wait­ing in line to get into the sta­di­um for a Sea­hawks game, every­one will get in, but it will take time and decency.

Q: Will any other medical providers or pharmacies be delivering the vaccine?

Yes. A num­ber of local health­care providers and phar­ma­cies are in var­i­ous stages of apply­ing to the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health to be approved as vac­cine providers. Some have been approved and are await­ing the vac­cine, and oth­ers are work­ing their way through the process. The deci­sion to deliv­er the COVID vac­cine or not is a choice made at the provider or busi­ness level.

Once a provider has been approved and has the vac­cine on hand, they will begin deliv­er­ing the vac­cine to those eli­gi­ble at the time to receive the immunization.

Q: How much vaccine does San Juan County Health & Community Services have on hand, and how much has been delivered?

San Juan County’s vac­cine team ini­tial­ly received a ship­ment of 600 dos­es of the Mod­er­na vac­cine, and an addi­tion­al 200 dos­es have just arrived as well. 

Of that total sup­ply of 800 dos­es, approx­i­mate­ly 250 dos­es have been admin­is­tered to date at clin­ics on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands. These events have been led by San Juan Coun­ty Health and Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices with incred­i­ble sup­port from local EMS agen­cies. At least an addi­tion­al 250 indi­vid­u­als will be immu­nized by the end of next week, and between 150–200 dos­es will be pro­vid­ed to local health­care providers to sup­port their vac­cine efforts once their final Wash­ing­ton DOH approval is grant­ed. As with all immu­niza­tion pro­grams, local health­care providers will play a vital role in the deliv­ery of vaccines. 

All of these dos­es are being pro­vid­ed to local Phase 1a indi­vid­u­als: emer­gency respon­ders, health­care work­ers (includ­ing sup­port staff), and long-term care facil­i­ty res­i­dents and staff.

It is hoped that all Phase 1a indi­vid­u­als in San Juan Coun­ty will be immu­nized with­in the first two weeks of Jan­u­ary and that the coun­ty team will be well poised for the move to Phase 1b.

Q:  When will more of the vaccine arrive on the islands?

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the exact tim­ing of the arrival of addi­tion­al vac­cine is unknown at this time. San Juan Coun­ty has been promised by the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health that sec­ond dos­es of each immu­niza­tion giv­en will be deliv­ered to San Juan Coun­ty in time for the sec­ond round of immu­niza­tions (remem­ber, all vac­cines being deliv­ered at moment require two dos­es, 28 days apart). 

Clear­ly, this isn’t the most sat­is­fy­ing answer, but remain­ing patient is the key.

Q: Where can I learn more?


Patience and flex­i­bil­i­ty are required. As with all things COVID, the details, tim­ing and under­stand­ing of every­thing about the COVID vac­cine will shift from week to week, if not day to day. Many details are only esti­mates at this time.

No sin­gle orga­ni­za­tion is respon­si­ble for the vac­cine effort. It will take a well-coor­di­nat­ed cam­paign between phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, local health­care providers and phar­ma­cies, deliv­ery ser­vices, all lev­els of gov­ern­ment, response agen­cies, and a range of non-prof­it com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions. There will be bumps in the road – this is a com­plex undertaking.

Just because peo­ple are get­ting immu­nized does not mean that we can relax our safe­ty pre­cau­tions. Even those who are vac­ci­nat­ed may still have the abil­i­ty to trans­mit the dis­ease in some cas­es (the vac­cine may pre­vent severe ill­ness, but may allow for asymp­to­matic or mild infec­tion where trans­mis­sion may still be possible).

To sum­ma­rize: patience, decen­cy, and flex­i­bil­i­ty will be the keys to get­ting through this final stage of the pan­dem­ic. Demand will be greater than sup­ply. Some will get the vac­cine before oth­ers. There will be some indi­vid­u­als who lie or mis­rep­re­sent their sit­u­a­tion in order to jump the line, while oth­ers will sac­ri­fice their turn for the greater good. The sit­u­a­tion will bring out the best and worst in peo­ple. For the islands, our most thought­ful and suc­cess­ful approach is to remain informed, engaged, empa­thet­ic, and decent towards one anoth­er. Near­ly every­one is doing the best they can in a ter­ri­bly dif­fi­cult situation. 

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0