Franklin County leaders ‘optimistic’ about increasing vaccines

PASCO, Wash. – On March 22, the entire state of Washington will enter into phase three of reopening, then March 31st, more people will qualify for the vaccines.

Then, on April 12, the Department of Health will re-evaluate each county to make sure they meet the new metrics.

Dr. Amy Person with the Benton Franklin Health District said, Franklin County has had a higher case count throughout the pandemic. So far, they’ve also had less people receive the vaccines than Benton County, which could be attributed to a variety of reasons.

“Lack of resources, access to care, they also have a higher percentage of people who have not had the option or luxury of working remotely,” Dr. Person said.

Mayor Saul Martinez said most of Franklin County’s population hasn’t been eligible to get vaccinated.

“We have a very young population in our county,” he added.

But now that we’ve moved into Phase 1-B, Tier 2, Dr. Person explained, one in seven Franklin County residents is eligible to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Every step is a challenge so yes we wanna motivate people to get vaccinated and we’re doing everything we can to make it as available as we can to our citizens,” Mayor Martinez said.

Micheal Young with the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic said they’ve been working to help essential workers, which makes up most of their clientele and the county.

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The YVFWC has clinics in the Tri-Cities areas.

“Our intention is to communicate the truth about vaccines and how it works, and make sure our patients in the community get the information they need so they can make the right decision, an informed decision for them and their family,” Young, the Vice President of Operations for the East Region said.

Young added, they’ve worked to get messaging out in multiple languages, to ensure they reach all populations.

“Radio, television, Facebook, we called our patients on our registries and reached out in multiple ways to make sure they have updated information on vaccine eligibility. Many are looking forward to the opportunity when they become eligible and their time comes, the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Young said.

Mayor Martinez encourages anyone who can, to get vaccinated, to ensure they stay in phase three and keep COVID-19 cases down.

“I’m optimistic that we can get it done,” he said.

YVFWC said their clinics throughout the region have vaccinated thousands of people. If you’re a patient and need to make an appointment, please call (509) 543-9280 and anyone else should email miramar@yvfwc.org. Be sure to include your full name, zip code, and phone number.