CWU News

CNN Article Highlights Kittitas County Vaccine Distribution Success

Kittitas County earned some well-deserved national attention Monday when published an article about the county’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts — and not a single vaccine dose has been wasted.

Rich Elliott, the deputy fire chief for Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue, reports that since inoculations began in December, the county has managed to distribute or safeguard every dose that was allocated. Asked why Kittitas County has been so successful with vaccine distribution, he pointed to the county’s history of cooperation during extreme weather events, such as wildfires.

"Our county has a 25-year history of just sort of everybody — the hospital, the school districts, law enforcement, fire agencies, federal and state partners — we just cooperate," Elliott said in the article for CNN Health.

Vaccine distribution has become a problem in many parts of the country since it was introduced by two pharmaceutical companies late last year. Only 10 million vaccinations were administered over the first month, falling well short of the goal of 100 million vaccinations by the end of 2020. As of Monday, about 19.3 million vaccines had been given nationwide.

The CNN article said Washington state had distributed more than 335,000 vaccines — or, 48% of the delivered doses given — as of January 18. Kittitas Valley Healthcare reports that it has given out 53% of its available doses and will be ramping up its efforts in the coming weeks, hoping to administer 97% of its supply by the end of this week.

Kittitas County Public Health Department spokeswoman Kasey Knutson told CNN that she's been busy vetting volunteers and making sure they can relieve the burden from county staff so vaccinations can continue on schedule. This week’s goal is to distribute 215 vaccine doses a day at two clinics, she said.

"We are really aware of how eager people are to get their vaccinations, and we want to just guarantee folks that we are effectively getting the vaccine out, that we're not stockpiling it, and we're not going to waste the vaccine," Knutson said.

Central Washington University health officials said earlier this month that they are going through the application process to become a potential COVID-19 vaccination site. Cooperation with KCPHD has been crucial, according to CWU Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Cepeda. 

“Central Washington University continues to work hand-in-hand with KCPHD and KVH Hospital to help keep our community safe and to identify CWU members who are COVID-19 vaccine-eligible under state and county guidelines,” he said.