WENATCHEE — Law enforcement personnel and firefighters in Chelan and Douglas counties have been vaccinated as part of the first phase of a COVID-19 vaccine rollout, after medical personnel.
It isn’t everyone within those agencies, but just the first-responders who might be exposed to COVID-19 during an aid call, Chelan County Commissioner Kevin Overbay said. Overbay is also a member of the Chelan-Douglas Board of Health and the Multi-Agency Coordinated group (MAC).
Overbay did not provide an estimate for how many officers and firefighters have been vaccinated.
MAC is the group handling the local COVID-19 pandemic response in Chelan and Douglas counties and was the group that pushed for first responders to get vaccinated, Overbay said.
“And the thing is that if we had deputies that were coming in contact with folks that are positive with COVID-19,” Overbay said. “If they basically contracted COVID, then we would basically lose our police force.”
Law enforcement and fire personnel were vaccinated after medical personnel.
“We basically looked at this as the high-risk workers in the health care settings and the high-risk first responders,” Overbay said of prioritizing the vaccinations.
The state Department of Health released a timeline for vaccinating different populations on Jan. 6. The timeline lists the following groups in the first phase:
- High-risk health care workers
- High-risk first responders
- Long-term care center residents
- All other workers at risk in health care settings
The timeline lists law enforcement and fire personnel on the third phase listed, after people over 70 years of age and people over 50 years of age in multigenerational households.
That timeline probably refers to the rest of the support staff at law enforcement agencies and not frontline deputies and officers, Overbay said.
Residents in long-term care centers, which are listed as part of the first phase, are still getting vaccinated in Chelan and Douglas counties. But the state and health district have no control over that process, Overbay said. Those centers are being vaccinated by third-party vendors, like Walgreens, through federal contracts.
“So these vaccinations were specifically for medical folks and the first-responders,” Overbay said. “And the long-term care facilities are being handled on another set of vaccines that are earmarked specifically for that.”
Chelan and Douglas counties have been very efficient in their use of the roughly 5,000 vaccines they’ve been provided so far to Lake Chelan Hospital, Columbia Valley Community Health and Confluence Health, Overbay said. About 96% of the vaccines have been allocated to people.
“So we are really head and shoulders above a lot of counties in our state, through our vaccination program,” Overbay said. “We’re basically getting the vaccine into our citizens.”