COVID-19 vaccine stories from the Yakima mass vaccination site

YAKIMA, Wash. — People have flocked to the Yakima community vaccination center at State Fair Park from around the state, driving hours away from home to get access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

KAPP-KVEW spoke to several people getting their second dose Thursday  — at both the drive-thru site and walk-up clinic located at the fairgrounds — about why they chose to get vaccinated.

Bonnie and Ben Gibbons traveled more than four hours round-trip from Redmond to Yakima to receive the second dose of the vaccine, heading through the drive-thru portion of the vaccination site.

“We did a lot of research and we felt really comfortable with it,” Bonnie said.

The parents said they wanted to get the vaccine for the good of the community and in the hope that increasing access to the vaccine will help their 3-year-old son Daniel return to normal and their 1-year-old daughter Miriam experience some of that normal for the first time.

Miriam was born right at the beginning of the pandemic at Evergreen Health Medical Center in Kirkland. Bonnie said they were discharged from the hospital the same day some of the first COVID-19 patients in Washington state died there.

The parents said since Miriam was born during the pandemic, she hasn’t had some of the experiences children normally have at her age.

“Our daughter, who is over one now, has never been to a grocery store … She hasn’t met 90 percent of our family,” Ben said. “So, you know, just those small bits, we’re eager to get back to.”

Bonnie said the family has been cautious during the pandemic, spent a lot of time at home and been careful about how much exposure they have to other people. Now that they’ve gotten their second dose and so many others are getting vaccinated, Bonnie said there’s hope that things will get a little closer to normal.

“This is like another layer of safety to make it easier this summer to hopefully have our child meet her family and we want our son to be able to play with all the kids at daycare again,” Bonnie said. “This is part of getting our lives back for all of us.”

Michael Barry, 19, also got his second dose through the drive-thru area. He said after doing extensive research on the vaccines, he felt comfortable getting vaccinated and that it was the next step toward getting back to how things used to be.

“I mostly decided to get vaccinated because I just want things to go back to normal,” Barry said.

Jamie Howell drove down more than four hours round-trip from Wenatchee to get his second dose at the walk-up clinic portion of the community vaccination center at State Fair Park. Howell said he was able to get in and out within a half-hour both times he visited the clinic.

“This is really fast, so I wish people would come take advantage of that,” Howell said. “I want to get vaccinated because there’s a pandemic killing millions of people and I would like to not be part of spreading that.”