A Kitsap resident recently received the 100,000th COVID-19 vaccine given in our county and will soon join the ranks of the fully immunized.
These fortunate people enjoy the primary benefits of knowing they are far less likely to get ill, become hospitalized, or die. They can also avoid quarantine if they are exposed to others with infection, and meet more safely with family and friends.
They have chosen a safe, simple, no-cost intervention to protect themselves and their loved ones, slow disease transmission and the emergence of dangerous new variants and help end this devastating pandemic. Our community appreciates and thanks all who have made this wise choice and followed through on getting it done.
We also thank the thousands of people who have selflessly and courageously stepped up to help vaccinate our community. The list of participants in this effort is long, and includes caregivers at clinics and hospitals, medics and emergency responders, pharmacists and physicians, data entry and information technologists, managers, administrators, and countless others. Retired healthcare workers and other volunteers have enlisted by the hundreds to meet the challenge of getting vaccines into the arms of eligible recipients as soon as they are available in our community.
Local leaders, whether in healthcare, business, politics, sports, communications, or faith-based organizations, are helping communicate the importance of getting each one of us vaccinated as soon as we can. This is truly a team effort.
Vaccinations are happening across Kitsap County in numerous settings. You can now or will soon be able to get your vaccination in a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, a clinic, a drive-through, a community center, a school, a transit center, a fairground, or a recently vacated hospital. All these convenient, low-cost, easily accessible venues represent creative local answers to the highly complex problem of getting vaccinations out as quickly as possible to all who are eligible to receive them and doing it safely, equitably, and economically.
These solutions to the challenge of vaccinating all of us as fast as possible are innovative, local, altruistic, and uniquely Kitsap. While other communities that have struggled to provide vaccinations have received assistance from the state and the federal government, as well as large corporations, in setting up and funding mass vaccination clinics across the state and around the country, our local efforts are resulting in the delivery of comparable or higher volumes of vaccinations. This hard work needs to be financially supported and nurtured to get the job done.
Most of the organizations providing vaccinations in Kitsap have been doing this work without knowing how or even if this would be reimbursed. Although the vaccine itself is funded by the federal government, the cost of administering it is not necessarily covered, and getting reimbursed for this work has been challenging, insufficient, and confusing for our providers. Recently, reimbursement of the vaccine administration fee has increased and will likely make it worthwhile for these providers to bill. This may be a solution moving forward, but it will not help with past costs or for those providers that do not have reimbursement relationships with specific insurers.
A simple, straightforward, volume-based reimbursement program, funded by federal dollars, health insurance, and third-party payors and coordinated through the state, would help keep Kitsap vaccinating so you can get yours if you haven’t already.
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccination at covidvaccinewa.org and find local updates at kcowa.us/vaccine.
Dr. Gib Morrow is the health officer for Kitsap Public Health District.