OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
Whitman county residents aged 12-15 years are now eligible to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Chris Skidmore, deputy director of Whitman County Public Health, said the county has some plans for upcoming vaccination clinics, but eligible adolescents can start receiving vaccinations at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories as soon as today.
Skidmore said he expects to see people in that age group getting vaccinated, but there might be some hesitant parents in the county.
Some children in grades K-12 have tested positive for COVID-19, but that is expected as most residents in that age group are unvaccinated, he said.
“I think we’ll see a little bit of a sudden spike [in people getting vaccines],” Skidmore said. “We’re probably going to get through those 12 to 15-year-olds rather quickly, probably within a week or two.”
Skidmore said there has been a drop-off in the amount of residents signing up to get vaccinated within the county.
“I think we’re gonna keep riding our mass vaccination clinics for as long as we possibly can,” he said.
The county will concentrate its efforts on grassroots pop-up clinics when it seems like mass vaccination clinics are no longer the best option, Skidmore said.
Most residents who want the vaccine in the county already started the process of getting it, he said.
“Now it’s mostly, you know, getting the rest of those folks that are hesitant or, you know, kind of on the fence about getting it,” he said.
The county now has a large amount of vaccines available, so local health officials are ready to meet residents’ demands. Skidmore said the county’s vaccine allocation has grown since the beginning of the year, and now the county is receiving about as many vaccines as it is requesting.
“Now we’re able to order and have ample supplies of the vaccine,” Skidmore said.
Allocations also increased due to Washington state dropping some of its harsher restrictions, including one that ordered counties to use up 95 percent of its vaccines within seven days of receiving them, he said.
Pfizer vaccines have a shelf life of about three months, he said.
Skidmore said vaccine administration for 12 to 15-year-olds was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and approved by the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which is a group of health officials from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington that review federal health decisions for safety and effectiveness.
Vaccination appointments can be made on the county’s public health website.