Kittitas County works together to vaccinate the latest vaccination phase

Laynie Erickson, Reporter

Kara Moser knows what it’s like to have COVID. She struggled with the virus last year and she didn’t hesitate when asked if she is planning on receiving the vaccine.

“Yes. Absolutely, of course. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, we have to take care of each other.” Moser said.

The good news for Kara is at 65 years old, she now qualifies for a vaccination under the latest Washington State COVID-19 guidelines.

Kara is in Phase 1B Tier 1, which makes her currently eligible for the vaccine. While phase 1A was specifically for healthcare workers, phase 1B tier 1 includes those 65 years of age and older as well as those 50 years and older that live in a multigenerational household.

Kittitas County has been seeing the 65+ population coming in to get their vaccines since the newest phase started almost a month ago.

They were also recently nationally recognized for the efficiency of their vaccine program.

Kathleen Brunner, Kittitas Valley Healthcare event coordinator, manages vaccine distribution at the Ellensburg fairgrounds, one of two mass vaccination sites in Kittitas County.

She credits her staff for the success of the vaccine program, most of which are volunteers.

“Once patients come in here there’s excited chatter, people are so thankful, and it’s really good for our staff. We have a ton of volunteers,” Brunner said. “I think we are up to 275 or somewhere around there. And we need lots of volunteers so that we can continue doing it.”

 It is these volunteers and many organizations throughout Kittitas County coming together, that makes these vaccinations possible.

Kittitas County fire chief, Rich Elliot, also serves as the vaccine branch director and he’s not the only one doing double duty.

“You can see the city of Ellensburg has a fairly large group of people here,” Elliot said. “There are firefighters and EMS personnel here who are volunteering their time. KVH the hospital has staff that are working all elements here. The health department is a huge presence”.

The Ellensburg site vaccinates close to 500 people a day, and all the dedicated staff here in Kittitas County don’t plan on letting up.

“We are going to do it as long as we have vaccine coming and as long as we need to take care of the community,” Brunner said.

To know when it’s your turn to receive the vaccine, the Kittitas Public Health Department is getting information out through newspapers, radio, social media, and medical providers. They are also requesting that the community help spread the word so those who qualify can register for appointments.