Whatcom County officials question COVID vaccine shortage

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — “To put it bluntly, it feels like we are failing our patients in our ability to get them the treatment and the care they need,” said Dr. Rodney Anderson.

Anderson is the CEO of Family Care Network, a group of primary care practices serving Whatcom and Skagit Counties.

He said his vaccine supply coming in from the state has been sporadic and unpredictable. One week he didn’t get any.

“The supply that we’re getting, to be clear, has really just been a trickle - often 100, 200 doses at a time,” Anderson added.

On Wednesday, he opened a drive through vaccination clinic in Bellingham. But after one day and 65 shots, he had to put the brakes on it because of supply issues.

To date, his organization has received 1,400 but they have 25,000 people currently eligible for the vaccine.

KIRO 7 asked if he thinks what he’s getting is equitable.

“That’s a good question. I think the department of health is doing their best to navigate through a pandemic that none of these systems were built to handle,” Anderson answered.

Earlier this week, Whatcom County Councilmember Ben Elenbaas was more direct.

“When you see the distribution isn’t really equitable and we don’t know what metrics are being used to distribute it, then it leads people’s minds to wander,” Elenbaas said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Whatcom County represents about 3% of the state’s total population. So far, it’s received about 2% of the doses administered across the state.

PeaceHealth in Bellingham was among the first in Whatcom County to get the vaccines. So far, it’s administered a total of 6,300 doses.

“I know the Department of Health has slowly shifted their focus over time and my understanding is getting more doses to community health organizations is becoming an increasing priority for them,” Anderson said. “And we certainly hope it improves but at this point there isn’t a lot of clarity as to when things will change quickly.”