Congressmember puts on her M.D. coat to dispense Wenatchee COVID-19 vaccinations

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WENATCHEE — It’s not every day you can get your lifesaving vaccination from a sitting member of Congress. But on Thursday, 8th District U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier was on hand at the Town Toyota Center mass vaccination site to provide COVID-19 shots for her constituents.

Schrier was a practicing pediatrician before voters sent her to the U.S. Congress in 2018. She’s still certified to practice, though, so on a visit to Wenatchee, she put in an hour at the state-operated vaccination site, putting dozens of COVID-19 shots into the arms of clients, volunteers, and even some of the National Guard members who normally give the shots.

“This is just incredible. It is so gratifying to be able to give vaccines in this year of just a lot of despair. I know healthcare professionals in particular have felt real despair — because in many ways it’s still a preventable disease, but so may people were coming to the hospital and dying. This is like the elixir for that.”

Town Toyota Center has been the distribution point for more than 35,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine. Eligible patients can sign up, show up, drive through, and then park for a 15-minute wait to make sure there’s no bad reaction. The presence of the center has helped Chelan County achieve a 23 percent rate of full vaccination since it opened in late January.

Schrier’s focus in Congress has largely been healthcare, including children’s health. She’s introduced multiple bills to strengthen vaccine education, helping families see the value in not just a COVID-19 shot, but routine vaccinations for their kids.

“My experience as a pediatrician is that there’s only about — or at least there used to be — only about 1 percent of the families who saw me would be flat out, no way, no how, no vaccine. But then there’s a big swath of the public that just has some questions, and I understand that. I mean, gosh, you take a look at social media, it’ll bring up all kinds of questions.

“… I think this is just about figuring out were people are and then calming those fears. And I think everybody’s got anxiety for a different reason. But now we’ve had these (shots) in millions of arms. People are doing great. I’ve had mine, I’m thrilled to pieces, my brother’s getting his tomorrow. I think the more people get it and the more the public sees that we’re doing great and we’re coming out of this, the more excitement there’ll be about getting them.”

Schrier says she sometimes misses practicing medicine regularly, but feels she’s doing more good for more children as a congressmember. And right now she’s hopeful about the course of the current pandemic.

“I just feel a tremendous sense of optimism — but just a reminder, our numbers are creeping up, so don’t let the guard down quite yet. … Keep masking, don’t indoor-gather, and soon we’ll be on the other side of this.”