2,000 people vaccinated through Amazon, Virginia Mason partnership

SEATTLE — In all, 2,000 people received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Sunday, thanks to a unique partnership between tech giant Amazon and the Virginia Mason Chi Franciscan Medical Center.

Amazon approached Virginia Mason last Tuesday and offered space and logistics expertise. As a result, hundreds of people walked through the clinic on Sunday.

It took just four days for Amazon and Virginia Mason Franciscan Health to fashion this mass inoculation site in the heart of Seattle, where hundreds of people got their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

It became a teachable moment, of sorts, for this once-familiar face in the Seattle Times: retired columnist Jerry Large.

“This vaccine is something that’s to help our communities, all of our communities,” said Large. “But particularly Black, Latino communities are hit really hard by this virus. So anybody who has an opportunity to get this vaccine should absolutely do it.”

But his wife, Carey Quan Gelernter, a former Seattle Times reporter and editor, too, is still smarting over how hard it was just getting to this point.

“Sites are crashing; a lot of confusion,” she said, “and appointments that weren’t really there. Phone lines that ring on and on. But this was quite smooth.”

“This concept, large business partnering with a health care organization, really will accelerate our vaccination rate in this community and keep us all safe,” said Katerie Chapman, president of Virginia Mason Hospital.

Still, Chapman said the frustration is being felt on all sides.

“We’re just, had not been set up to do that prior to this experience, this pandemic,” she said.

She was asked what should people do.

“Get on a waitlist,” she said, “and be patient. I know it’s hard. But organizations are pulling their waitlist in to match the capacity that they have.”

All of it is toward the governor’s goal, she said, of vaccinating 45,000 Washingtonians a day. Perhaps, their experience will be like that of Elizabeth Domondon of Seattle.

“The lady that gave me the shot was very good,” she said. “It just felt like a little sting.”

The second shot will be given out on Valentine’s Day. But Chapman said this is only the start of these mass clinics.