The Pierce County Council voted 6-1 at its Jan. 19 meeting to approve allocating $4 million from the county’s general fund to help set up mass COVID-19 vaccination sites.
Officials said they expect to be reimbursed by state or federal funding sources, even as they deliberated and passed Proposal No. 2021-5, the first supplemental budget of 2021.
To speed up administration of the vaccine, Pierce County plans to establish three mass vaccination sites and several mobile locations. The county’s Department of Emergency Management will assist with the rollout and planning of the sites, which are expected to be up and running by the end of the month.
“I just think anything we can do here locally helps us to eventually reclaim normalcy within our community,” Councilmember Dave Morell said. “And the quicker we can roll out these vaccines, the quicker we can open up more phases in our economy.”
The lone “no” vote came from Councilmember Amy Cruver, who expressed concerns over the speed and accuracy of COVID-19 tests.
“I’m not convinced $4 million is going to be a cure-all for this,” she said.
Locations of the mass vaccination sites — with a goal of 4,600 vaccines a day at full capacity — have not been determined yet. Criteria being considered for the sites include proximity to public transportation, equitable access and geographic diversity.
Eight mobile vaccination sites and “drop teams” to bring vaccines to people unable to travel are also part of the plan to inoculate the population.
On Jan. 18, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state is officially in Phase 1B of the vaccine administration plan. Phase 1B includes people 65 and older and people who are 50 years old and living in multigenerational homes.
Inslee said the state will be setting up four mass COVID-19 vaccination sites in central and eastern Washington.
The council was given a presentation on COVID-19 vaccine distribution for Pierce County by members of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
As of Jan. 9, 20,700 vaccines have been administered in Pierce County, out of 48,675 doses received.
“We should see those numbers starting to even out here in the next couple of weeks as the vaccines administered catch up to the doses allocated, especially as that federal pharmacy catches up,” said Kayla Scrivener, program manager of the communicable diseases department.
For information on the vaccine or where to get them in Pierce County, go to https://www.tpchd.org/healthy-people/diseases/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine-information.
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