Whitman County continues to issue COVID-19 vaccinations in first phase

Individuals receiving vaccination in Phase 1A include healthcare workers and older high-risk individuals



In a few weeks, the county will move into the first part of Phase 1B.

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

Over 1,000 healthcare workers and older high-risk individuals have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccinations since Dec. 17. Over 500 more individuals are expected to receive their first dose in the next week. 

The COVID-19 vaccination is distributed in two doses: the primer and the booster, said Ben Stone, public information officer for Whitman County Public Health. Once an individual receives the primer vaccination, they must wait about 20 days before receiving the booster. Individuals who received their first dose in December are expected to begin receiving their second dose. 

“[The first] teaches your body what to look for,” he said. “That booster dose is sort of a test for that immune system, so then the immune system gets to see what it is actually fighting.”

Whitman County is currently in Phase 1A in its vaccination distribution process, and it will stay in this phase for the next few weeks, according to a press release issued Friday by Whitman County Public Health. 

The phase focuses primarily on healthcare workers who provide direct patient care as well as individuals who are working or staying in long-term care facilities, Stone said. 

Prioritizing older high-risk individuals and workers who contribute most to the healthcare system is an attempt to decrease the number of hospitalizations and high-risk outbreaks throughout the state, Stone said. 

In a few weeks, ideally by late January, the county will move into the first part of Phase 1B, he said. Phase 1B is separated into four tiers, each lasting about one month. The county is expected to stay in tier one through February. 

The first tier of Phase 1B includes vaccinating individuals over 70 years and individuals over 50 years who are living in multigenerational households, Stone said. 

“It’s not somebody who’s over 50 years old just caring for their kids,” he said. “What they’re really meaning [is] there is … an adult who may be taking care of their parents or an elder in their home.” 

Tier two of Phase 1B includes high-risk essential workers who are over 50 years, Stone said. Tier three is expected to begin in April and includes individuals 16 years or older who have health conditions that put them at high risk. Tier four includes high-risk essential workers under 50 years. 

The county is following vaccine distribution recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Council for Immunization Practices, he said. Pullman Regional Hospital and Palouse Medical are working to distribute vaccinations locally to individuals in Phase 1. 

More information about each tier will be released as the county prepares to enter them, including how to apply for vaccinations. The state has only released information about Phase 1.

More information about Phase 1 can be found at Whitman County Public Health’s website