LOCAL NEWS

King County Council chair calls for more transparency on availability of vaccines

Feb 7, 2021, 8:30 AM | Updated: Feb 8, 2021, 7:11 am
vaccines...
Mass vaccination site in Auburn, Washington. (King County)
(King County)

COVID-19 vaccine supply struggles are being blamed for issues around the state.

Overlake Hospital postponed vaccinations for patients after the state’s allotment fell short of expectations. But that left a lot of people in the lurch, trying in vain to schedule a second dose once they got their first one.

KIRO 7 TV is hearing from those patients, as is Claudia Balducci, chair of the King County Council.

So, Overlake Hospital is not alone. But that doesn’t help the people who are trying so hard to get the lifesaving vaccine.

“I’m 76 years old,” said Jessie Chiu. “I had an appointment.”

But Chiu’s appointment to get her first coronavirus vaccine was postponed when Overlake Hospital’s allotment was drastically cut.

So the retired research scientist was given a new date: Feb. 19. But therein lies the problem.

“When I booked my original Feb. 5 date, I also booked my second shot,” Chiu said. “That was Feb. 26. I cannot (get the second shot then). Should be around March 10.”

The trouble is she can’t find an open date at Overlake.

“Very constantly, I go to the website to check, but absolutely nothing,” she said in frustration.

“I’ve done a number studies in my lab to look at the intervals between immunizations,” said Dr. Deborah Fuller. “And there’s quite a fair bit of flexibility there.”

Fuller, a University of Washington vaccinologist, said the second dose will be effective even outside the prescribed time. She said that is one concern people can put aside.

“Yes, yes,” Fuller said. “They don’t need to start all over for their first vaccine or worry that if they are late that they’re going to somehow respond less well or get less. Immunity is going to be just as good, if not better.”

“I’ve spent a lot of time on the internet, but I’m always too late,” Balducci read from the 500 responses to a survey she put out, hoping to find a way to resolve the chaotic vaccine rollout.

“I think what needs to happen is we all need to figure out a way to let people get good information,” said Balducci. “Even if the information is bad. Even it’s you’re going have to wait a few more weeks. If they knew, and they have a place that they can rely on, I think that would help people to calm down and feel better because they would know when.”

To that end, she plans to share what she is learning with the people who are in charge of the rollout so that hospitals like Overlake, as well as their patients, can find some relief. After all, the people at Overlake feel like they are getting a black eye in all of this.

As for Chiu, Overlake shared she doesn’t need to worry about the second dose. It will schedule that when she gets her first dose later this month.

But moments after KIRO 7 reported the story, an Overlake patient emailed that she got her first dose on Jan. 27. And her second dose still has not been scheduled.

So the confusion continues.

Written by KIRO 7 TV reporter Deborah Horne

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King County Council chair calls for more transparency on availability of vaccines