Saturday, June 12, 2021
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1,000 more vaccinations: Fairgrounds event brings county one step closer to beating COVID-19

by SAM FLETCHER
Staff Writer | March 15, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — About 1,000 people filtered through the vaccination clinic Saturday at the Grant County Fairgrounds to receive their first round of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.

The logistics have changed for each event, said Samaritan communications director Gretchen Youngren. Six weeks since the first vaccination event at the fairgrounds, organizers have it down to a science.

The Grant County Vaccine Task Force refers to its newest system as the “Southwest method,” as it’s laid out like an airport. Patients enter in one of two registration lines before being sent to one of many vaccination stations set up in the parking lot.

This is largely consolidated compared to the first event, which took patients through registration in the parking lot, with vaccinations in the sheriff’s office, waiting in a separate lot and workers entering data in the Democrat building. Now, all of this is done in a single place.

“It’s pretty darn slick,” Youngren said. “While patients came around in January and had to sometimes wait, the longest was two hours, now they’re in and out in 20-30 minutes.”

The Grant County Task Force can continue with its vaccinations events every three weeks without interrupting any other fairground activities.

Week by week, statewide changes affect each event, she said. Roles within the task force change as smaller health care entities can take part and different agencies take certain responsibilities. Saturday’s event was largely organized by the sheriff’s office.

“By going to a full community structure, it’s no longer just Samaritan’s commitment,” she said.

Volunteers from Grant PUD, Moses Lake School District and agencies from other counties made the drive to spend their Saturday helping. Many of the vaccines were administered by Big Bend nursing students.

Another contributing change is vaccine availability, Youngren said. Additional vaccine clinics within the Moses Lake Community Health Center, Confluence Health, pharmacies and other smaller health facilities have sprung up since the first event, taking the pressure off single massive-scale events. Tiers of eligibility continue to open as well, making the administration less restrictive.

In addition to all of this change, more mass vaccination events are taking place across the county, Youngren said. Grand Coulee is set to hold its first 550-dose distribution event Friday at the Coulee Medical Center. The following day, another 550 doses will be administered at Quincy Middle School.

Saturday’s patients were advised to return to the site in three weeks, April 3, to receive their second dose, she said.

“Every day feels like one step closer,” Youngren said. “And it’s sunny, which is amazing.”

photo

Sam Fletcher

Volunteer Meg Lybbert, a professor at Eastern Washington University, right, gathers preliminary patient information at the Grant County Fairgrounds on Saturday.