New community COVID-19 vaccination site opening this Friday in Vancouver

A new COVID-19 vaccination site is opening in the Tower Mall parking lot this week. The vaccination site will operate alongside the Tower Mall COVID-19 Community Testing Site, which opened in January. The vaccination site is a collaboration between Clark County Public Health, the city of Vancouver and Safeway.

Clark County Public Health is contacting people who have submitted a request for vaccine using the webform on the Public Health website to schedule appointments at Tower Mall. Public Health is using the contact information provided on the form – phone numbers or emails – to reach people on the waiting list. That outreach began Tuesday.

The vaccination site will operate Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday and offer drive-thru and walk-up options in the Tower Mall parking lot, 5403 E. Mill Plain Blvd., with vehicle entry off Blandford Drive. Each day, about 600 people will be vaccinated for a total of 2,400 vaccinations over the four days. Appointments are required. People who visit the site without an appointment will not be vaccinated.

About 20,000 people are awaiting referrals; not everyone on the waiting list will be able to get vaccinated at the Tower Mall site this week. Additional days may be added in the coming weeks if vaccine is available. Public Health will also continue to work with health care providers to refer people from the waiting list for vaccination, as vaccine supply allows.

Public Health is also working closely with community partners to offer appointments at the Tower Mall site to populations who are historically underserved and have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Equitable distribution and access to COVID-19 vaccine is a priority for Clark County Public Health.

“The Tower Mall site makes COVID-19 vaccine more easily accessible and provides an opportunity to serve members of our community who are often medically underserved,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer and Public Health director. “We’re excited to see more opportunities for everyone in our community to get vaccinated.”

“Safeway is thrilled to be partnering with Clark County to make vaccine more accessible to its residents,” said Stephen Certo, Safeway Director of Pharmacy for Oregon and Southern Washington. “We hope to continue to be able to vaccinate the members of Clark County throughout the upcoming phases.”

COVID-19 vaccine is provided by Safeway through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Safeway pharmacists will administer Pfizer vaccine, with support from Clark County Public Health. No vaccines will be stored on site outside of normal operating hours. The city of Vancouver is providing non-medical staff to assist with site operations.

Everyone vaccinated at the site will automatically be scheduled for their second dose at the site three weeks later.

The Tower Mall vaccination site is the latest effort of the Southwest Washington Regional Public Health Incident Management Team – a collaboration between Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania counties. The three counties have been working together, and with community partners, since January to develop plans for mobile and fixed-location vaccination sites throughout the region.

The Tower Mall COVID-19 vaccination efforts will not impact COVID-19 testing at the site. The community COVID-19 testing site will continue to operate 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information about free testing at the site, visit www.ClarkCountyCOVIDtesting.org.

Everyone, even those who have been vaccinated, should continue to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. That includes wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distancing and avoiding gatherings. These steps are critical to keeping our community healthy until more people can be vaccinated.

For more information about local COVID-19 vaccination efforts and to submit a request for COVID-19 vaccine, visit the Clark County Public Health COVID-19 vaccine webpage or call 888-225-4625. The Public Health call center operates 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.