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Why Snohomish County closed vaccination sites Monday

People stand near a sign as they wait in line to receive the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, at a one-day vaccination clinic set up in an facility in Seattle and operated by Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

One of Dori’s listeners said her husband was finally able to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment scheduled for Monday, but was notified last night that the Paine Field and Edmonds College drive-thru vaccination sites would be closed Monday, Jan. 25, due to “winter weather.”

Jake Scherf, chief executive officer of the Seattle Visiting Nurse Association, confirmed that the vaccinations were canceled Monday due to the threat of winter weather conditions.

“We were tracking potential winter weather conditions in the convergence zone from the King-Snohomish County line up to Everett, and so we had to make a decision in cooperation with Snohomish County, who are our partners and administering these sites, to reschedule the appointments to later in the week,” Scherf said.

While the sun broke through in Everett and Edmonds on Monday, Scherf says they had been tracking a good chance of potential lowland snow in the convergence zone, which obviously did not materialize.

“But just for the safety of our patients, we made the decision to reschedule those appointments,” he said. “A lot of that has to do with the demographics that we’re seeing. In Edmonds and Everett with this tier one B, we’re seeing a lot of seniors. We were concerned that if there were conditions that were hazardous to drive in, that people would feel compelled that they had to go out and get their appointment if there was snow or ice on the road.”

Scherf added that no appointments were canceled, but rather everyone who made an appointment at the two sites will still have the opportunity to get vaccinated later this week. He assured Dori that the cancellation was not due to any shortage of doses.

“Every appointment that we have, we have those doses in stock,” he said. “There’s no threat of any of those appointments being canceled due to vaccine shortages. Governor Inslee has cut the dosage that we’re expecting to receive later this week, but those are for next week, and we haven’t released any appointments for next week at this time.”

Where to get vaccinated for COVID-19 in Washington state

Scherf says they’ve learned a “good lesson” from this, and are working on an alternative strategy for messaging around possible winter weather conditions in the weeks and months ahead.

“I wish we had the ability, like a school district, to let people know day of and watch the ticker on the news,” Scherf said. “But we have to make these decisions in advance just because of all the different parties that are involved. So I think we learned a good lesson here. We’re coming up with an alternative strategy for messaging around potential winter weather, because we’re going to see it again as we head into February.”

“And I do apologize for the inconvenience for any of our patients,” he added. “Some folks were planning to come together, and they’re driving from Shelton or Yakima, other counties that don’t have access, so we’re working with them on an individual basis to to meet their needs.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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