As a result of Washington state announcing that COVID-19 vaccinations would be available to everyone 65 and older, and people 50 and older in multigenerational households, Kitsap Public Health District and local health care providers are receiving an “extremely high volume” of inquiries and asking for patience as efforts scale up to meet demand.
While eligibility has expanded, the supply of COVID vaccines remains limited, and many health care providers are not able to schedule appointments at this time, according to the health district.
“We know Kitsap residents are eager to get a COVID-19 vaccine. We are just as eager to get community members vaccinated, and we are doing everything we can to speed up this process,” Dr. Gib Morrow of the KPHD said. “More vaccine is on the way, but right now there is simply not enough vaccine in our county for everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. We are asking community members to be patient as the supply increases and local providers are able to open more appointments.”
The district and other local providers are receiving a high volume of inquiries and may not be able to respond to all requests for information. They are working to establish a local call center to help field those inquiries.
Due to the number of eligible recipients exceeding the supply of vaccines it will take weeks for everyone eligible under Phase 1B Tier 1 to get vaccinated. According to the health district, there are about 50,000 people in Kitsap over the age of 65 and potentially thousands of residents older than 50 who live in a multigenerational household. As of Jan. 19, about 9,250 vaccine doses have been delivered into Kitsap, with most of those already administered under Phase 1a.
More vaccines are on the way as clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and other health care organizations that have registered with the state will receive shipments when available.
The health district is not administering vaccines but will be soon as it is working with the county’s Emergency Operations Center to set up community vaccine clinics. The first clinic is expected to open this month to serve people eligible for Phase 1b tier 1. More details on the clinic, including registration information and location, will be made available when vaccines have been allocated.
The city of BI, in partnership with the BI Fire Department and Bainbridge Prepares, is coordinating with BI Community Pharmacy on COVID vaccine distribution. As of Jan. 18, the partnership has supported the vaccination of approximately 1,000 Phase 1A individuals from Kitsap and surrounding counties.
According to the city’s website, there are three state-approved vaccine providers on the island: Bainbridge Island Community Pharmacy, Member Plus Family Health (will be vaccinating existing patients in coming weeks) and Virginia Mason (waitlist for eligible patients at virginiamason.org/vaccinewaitlist)
If BICP receives vaccines next week, information on scheduling an appointment will be posted on the city’s website.
The CHI Franciscan and Swedish clinics on Bainbridge are not expected to provide vaccinations at this time.
Once appointments are available, the Bainbridge Island Senior Center will assist individuals without access to the internet or a computer with the registration process. Additionally, Island Volunteer Caregivers will assist with transportation for individuals who need assistance getting to a vaccine clinic, according to the city.