Kittitas County receives first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine


Star Diavolikis, Senior Reporter

The first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are being distributed in Kittitas County after emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week. The first shot was given on Dec. 18.

On Dec. 17, Kittitas County health officials and others held a virtual Q&A regarding the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines for the public to express any concerns.

The first batch of the vaccine, 975 total doses, were received at Kittitas County Healthcare (KVH) in Ellensburg. Mandee Olson, the chief quality officer of KVH, said they received a 24 to 48 hour notice before receiving the vaccine.

The first round of vaccines will be given to “tier 1A” residents, according to Rich Elliot, deputy chief of the Kittitas County Fire and Rescue. Tier 1A consists of healthcare workers, first responders and those living and working in assisted living facilities. 

“Our goals are effective, safe, and efficient delivery of that vaccine,” Elliot said.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots, spaced three weeks apart. Pfizer’s vaccine is cleared to be given to pregnant women, however, the vaccine is not approved for children under the age of 16.

Dr. John Merrill-Steskal, MD at Kittitas Valley Healthcare, said side effects of the vaccine may include achiness, injection site pain, headache, fatigue, and other mild flu-like symptoms.

“The research so far does not seem to be showing any serious long-term problems,” Merrill-Steskal said. “In general, for serious side effects from vaccines, the time period where those are most likely to show up are the first six to eight weeks after taking the vaccine.”

Elliot said the Moderna vaccine could be distributed in Kittitas County at some point next week, depending on an FDA panel’s recommendation for emergency approval of Moderna’s vaccine on Dec. 17, and the expectation that the FDA will formally approve it soon after.

The timeline for vaccination availability for other groups is unclear, as specific tiers are not yet set up and everyone is unsure about shipment times. An issue involved is cuts from the CDC. Governor Jay Inslee tweeted, “@CDCgov has informed us that WA’s vaccine allocation will be cut by 40 percent next week — and that all states are seeing similar cuts.”