Washington expands vaccine distribution in Clark County

Clark County

Some Oregon frontline workers feel left behind

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. (KOIN) — Frontline workers in Washington will be eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine within a few weeks.

On Friday, Clark County opened up a mass vaccination site in the Tower Mall parking lot in Central Vancouver.

Clark County Public Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick said the site is ideal because of its accessibility.

“We are really excited about this site because you can see it is on public transit and people who might have difficulty traveling further distances can actually get the vaccine here,” he said.

Melnick said the goal is to get 2,400 people their vaccines by Tuesday. If all goes well, health officials hope to administer even more doses.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday the state will soon be able to move into the next phase of vaccinations. By March 22, he hopes the state can move to a phase where people who work in the public — at grocery stores, public transit, first responders — will finally be eligible.

Pregnant and disabled citizens who may be at a higher risk will also be eligible for a vaccine starting March 22. People over the age of 50 who have had two or more diseases will be eligible on April 12.

Oregon frontline workers meanwhile feel left behind, with many of them not being eligible for the vaccine until May 1.

“My members in both states are really concerned that they’re going to get sick because they are on the frontlines but at least my members in Washington have someone who supports them and there is a light at the end of the tunnel and they know they are going to be safe, said Dan Clay, president of UFCW local 555. The union represents more than 28,000 frontline workers.

Essential workers are taking on a “significant risk” to their health and safety, Clay said, adding that states need to make sure they are protected.

“It seems like everyone but Oregon is doing that but Oregon is pushing people to the back of the line and it’s fundamentally unfair,” he said.

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