COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up at Town Toyota Center

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WENATCHEE — Today was Day One for Wenatchee’s first mass-vaccination site, put in place at Town Toyota Center to inoculate qualifying patients against COVID-19.

National Guard troops, state incident management teams and the Chelan-Douglas Health District are spearheading the operation, with 100 appointments booked on its opening day and 400 a day for the rest of the week.

It’s Town Toyota Center’s latest incarnation as a key front in NCW’s war on COVID-19. For months during the pandemic, the arena parking lot has served as a vaccination center and a food bank distribution point. Now people qualifying for the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine can make an appointment, and drive through this open-air clinic to receive their inoculations.

“On Friday, we should be hearing more how many (vaccine doses) the state got in, and how many will be allocated to us,” said Luke Davies, administrator of the Chelan-Douglas Health District, in a press conference Tuesday. “And as we build capacity here, not only with the mass vaccination site, but with our partners, we will be able to scale much larger and much faster.”

The arena parking lot is likely to be used for this purpose well into the summer. Under state health guidelines, these shots are designated for people 65 and older, and for those 50 and older who live in households with multiple generations, like grandparents, parents and grandchildren. Other categories of recipients are expected to open up by spring.

Davies said the arena vaccination center is working strictly with the vaccine developed by Pfizer, which requires supercold storage. Confluence Health is storing and handling the doses designated for Town Toyota Center, in part because it has cold storage space available.

Recipients get their shot, then must stand by in a holding lot for 15 minutes, while they’re monitored for any allergic reaction. Each vaccination is given in two doses three to four weeks apart; second doses will be administered at the same vaccination center.

The shots should help prevent illness, but they don’t necessarily keep immunized people from spreading COVID-19. So masking and social distancing remain crucial.

“Do all of the things that have been laid out by our health officer and by the Department of Health to continue to bringing these numbers down,” said Dan Sutton, a Douglas County commissioner and chair of the Chelan-Douglas Board of Health. “Our goal of course is to keep people safe, save lives, and get business open as quickly as we can.”

But there’s still confusion about the registration and vaccination process, and Davies says it’s being fine-tuned. Workers on Tuesday turned away multiple people wanting the vaccine who thought they could drive up and get it with no appointment.

No new signups will be accepted until noon on Sunday, Jan. 31. When that time comes, if you qualify, go to prepmod.doh.wa.gov, and enter your information, or call (800) 525-0127 or (888) 856-5816. If you’re not able to make it to the site, Davies recommends contacting your primary healthcare provider.