Vancouver, WA — Clark County Public Health has been researching concerns and questions about the amount of COVID-19 vaccinations coming into Clark County and released their findings today.
The health department looked at the amount of vaccine being allocated by the state to counties, and compared the allocation for 15 counties: The five counties with the highest, lowest and median population sizes.
“While Clark County has the fifth highest population in the state, we ranked near the bottom (14th out of 15) in the allocation of first doses per 1,000 residents and first-dose allocation as a percentage of the total county population,” the health department said in a statement. “Through 11 weeks, the state has allocated 45,950 first doses of vaccine to Clark County. That’s 94.1 doses per 1,000 people or doses for 9.4% of our population. The next largest county, Spokane County, has received 30,325 more first doses than Clark County, but has only 35,000 more residents. Spokane County has received 145.9 doses per 1,000 people or doses for 14.6% of their population.”
The counties with the lowest and median size populations ranked higher in doses per 1,000 people. But the largest counties – King, Snohomish and Pierce counties – all received considerably more vaccine doses per 1,000 than Clark County (132.4, 121.1 and 111.9 doses per 1,000 respectively).
The only county in their 15-county comparison that has received fewer doses per 1,000 people than Clark County is Ferry County, which has a population of about 7,600 people.
“This allocation data comparison reinforces what we have suspected: Clark County is receiving less vaccine per capita than other counties,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director. “This disparity is impacting our ability to get Clark County residents vaccinated and is hindering our efforts to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine in our community.”
Clark County Public Health has been working closely with local health care providers, community partners and neighboring counties to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible and develop plans for community vaccination sites, as vaccine supply allows.
“We’re working with community partners to identify key populations who are being underserved or disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, are identifying locations throughout the county where we could host accessible community vaccination sites, and are lining up the necessary volunteers and staffing to operate those sites,” the health department said. “Our biggest barrier has been vaccine supply.”
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler addressed these same concerns today at a Congressional hearing.
“The news that Southwest Washington counties are being shorted COVID vaccines is absolutely unacceptable,” said Herrera Beutler. “I made this known when I had the opportunity to question Washington state’s Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah today at a congressional hearing.”
As an example, she said Lewis County has a high population of elderly residents, but in terms of vaccine distribution is the worst in the state’s 39 counties.
“And Clark County is the fifth largest county in the state, but is ranked 14th out of 15 counties in first dose allocations amongst counties with the highest, lowest, and median population sizes,” she said. “The state has to do better.”
In addition to the efforts by Clark County Public Health, local health care providers have the capacity to vaccinate several thousand people per week.
“Clark County is ready to expand our vaccination efforts, once we receive the vaccine supply needed to serve our community,” said the health department.