North County immunization

Willapa Harbor Hospital Nurse and Infectious Disease Officer Shelly Lev gets one of the final doses for the day of the coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 30. 

SOUTH BEND — The first covid-19 vaccines were administered to healthcare professionals and first responders in the north county area on Dec. 30 during a drive-through event held at the South Bend Fire Department. Officials overseeing the event admit they can finally breathe a small sigh of relief because there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

"It has gone really smoothly, and we've [provided] 70 vaccines today," Pacific County Public Health and Services Director Katie Lindstrom said. "I think we could easily double that [because] this was our very first go with [a] drive-through vaccine event. I think our next event is going to look at double the number [to around 140]."

Healthcare workers and first responders were able to schedule appointments for the event. During the appointment, they had to drive through three different checkpoints: registration, getting the vaccine, and a 15-minute wait to be observed for an adverse reaction. Willapa Harbor Hospital (WHH) staff and public health nurses, and one volunteer administered the vaccines.

The Raymond Fire Department (RFD) provided an ambulance staffed with a paramedic on-site in case anyone had an adverse effect to the vaccine. Additionally, a doctor was also on scene and oversaw the observation checkpoint, and was ready on the spot to render help.

"It's been recommended to have [emergency medical services] on-site, and Raymond Fire has been really great to be here," Lindstrom said. "Then we have Dr. Dave Cundiff as a volunteer [who] has been monitoring people. He's got a huge public health background, and he is a medical doctor."

The SBFD has also been used periodically throughout the pandemic by officials as a drive-through testing site, and Lindstrom expressed that she is grateful for the city's generosity. She also credits her staff, WHH, and other agencies who helped make the vaccine event happen.

“It’s been a good day,” RFD Chief Todd Strozyk said. “Now we just have about 15,000 more people to get vaccinated.”

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