Southwest Washington Legislators, State to Meet Over Vaccine Allocation Inequity

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A group of legislators from Southwest Washington have secured a meeting with the state Department of Health on Saturday to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine allocation disparity that exists for Clark County.

According to a news release from Rep. Brandon Vick, R-Vancouver, the legislators will be able to meet with Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah and Michele Roberts, acting secretary for prevention and community health. Vick and nine other Southwest Washington legislators sent a letter to Shah, calling for the meeting.

The legislators hope to make Clark County a higher priority on the DOH vaccine allocation distribution list, and make sure the county is receiving an equal portion of both first and second doses based on the county's population in comparison to other counties. They also want the Department of Health to catch up on the number of vaccine allocations that are already behind in the county and make sure the Department of Health is working with local health jurisdictions to ensure providers have access to, and can use, both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, according to the news release.

On Tuesday, Clark County Public Health released a data analysis showing that Clark County was being allocated fewer vaccines on a per capita basis than other counties.

Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, also sent a letter to the secretary of health on Wednesday, requesting a review of the state's formula for vaccine allocation. And on Thursday, the Clark County Board of Health finalized a letter for Gov. Jay Inslee, requesting that the allocation issue is remedied.

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"Clark County residents have not been treated fairly when it comes to vaccine allocations," Vick said in a prepared statement. "I'm grateful to the other legislators who joined with me in this important effort. We will continue to work together to see that residents in our county receive their fair share of vaccine allocations from the state."

In a Thursday press conference, Inslee hinted that more vaccine may soon be available to Clark County and other counties that have experienced these allocation disparities.

Inslee claimed in the press briefing that Clark County was experiencing issues because it does not have as much extra-cold storage which is required for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Inslee said Washington has fewer doses of the Moderna vaccine, which has fewer restrictions on storage.

Public Health Public Information Officer Marissa Armstrong said in an email Thursday night that "the limited amount of Moderna vaccine does not explain the large discrepancy in vaccine allocation in Clark County."

"Our largest health care providers, who have the greatest capacity to vaccinate people in Clark County, have been requesting Pfizer vaccine for several weeks," Armstrong said. "Some had requests that were only partially filled or not filled at all. Some of our local providers were previously ordering Moderna and those orders were not being filled without any explanation why."

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