COVID-19 vaccines are plentiful across Whidbey Island

Even with the availability of vaccines, only 41% of Island County residents are fully vaccinated.

By Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

The availability of COVID-19 vaccinations is so widespread on Whidbey Island that the hospital will end its mass vaccination clinic on June 30, WhidbeyHealth reported.

But even with the availability of the vaccines, only 41 percent of county residents are fully vaccinated while about 44 percent of residents statewide are. Yet neither the county nor the state numbers include data from several federal sources — including the Navy — which means vaccination rates are higher than reported in areas like Whidbey Island.

Island County reports that eight pharmacies on Whidbey Island have vaccines available. They are Island Drug in Oak Harbor and Clinton; Rite-Aid in Oak Harbor and Freeland; Saars Market in Oak Harbor; Safeway in Oak Harbor; Walmart in Oak Harbor; and Walgreens in Oak Harbor.

The county’s vaccination team is continuing to hold pop-up vaccination clinics at places where people congregate, such as the Friday Street Market in Langley and the Bayview Farmers Market this week.

“You can get a vaccine if you want right now,” county COVID Response Manager Don Mason said, adding that the county strongly recommends that people do so.

Not all availability is on the state vaccination finder tool but it can also be found on Facebook or on the pharmacy’s website. People having trouble making appointments can contact the county call center at 360-678-2301.

“Just about everywhere, if you walk in without an appointment they will give you a vaccination,” Mason said of the pharmacies.

WhidbeyHealth delivered more than 17,000 injections as of last Friday.

On Monday, the state Department of Health reported that the state is working to reconcile vaccine counts with the federal government. The Department of Health reported that 7.25 million vaccines have been administered in the state while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the count is 7.84 million.

The difference is largely due to the fact that the state doesn’t get data from the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Bureau of Prisons or a few other federal sources, the Department of Health reported.

“The state has asked the federal government to share vaccination information from programs at their facilities to accurately paint a picture of how protected Washington communities are, but this information has not been released,” the Department of Health reported.

Mason confirmed that active-duty military and civilians vaccinated at NAS Whidbey are not included in the county’s vaccine count. He said weeks ago the Navy reported that about 16,000 vaccinations were administered, but the data did not include any information about where those people live so it can’t be used in county totals.

The county hasn’t received any data since then, he said.

An NAS Whidbey spokesperson said the base clinic has been working closely with both the county and state to provide aggregate vaccination data. The base is only able to share doses received and doses provided.

Vaccination rates have a direct impact on the county’s economy, officials pointed out.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced last month that the state will fully reopen on June 30, but that it could happen earlier if 70 percent or more of residents over the age of 16 initiate vaccination — which means to get at least a first dose.

That rate was 64 percent in the state as of June 5. Mason reported this week that the county’s rate is 58.5 percent.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.

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