Grand opening held for Yakima mass vaccination site

First fully FEMA-funded mass vaccination site in Washington state

YAKIMA, Wash. — Local, state and federal officials gathered Wednesday morning at State Fair Park to celebrate the grand opening of its joint venture: a fully federally funded mass vaccination site.

The Pilot Community Vaccination Center in Yakima is the first mass vaccination site in Washington state to be funded entirely by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“They’re using this as a pilot,” said Lee Roach, Incident Commander with the Western Washington Incident Management Team. “The idea is they’ll get this up and running, figure out how it works, how can they make it more efficient and then potentially take this type of facility to other locations across the nation.”

The program will last for eight weeks, with the site open seven days a week. With additional vaccines provided by federal partners, the drive-thru mass vaccination site will go from providing about 200 vaccines per day to up to 1,200.

“It’s a great resource; it’s easy, it’s accessible and it’s free to our community,” said Stephanie Badillo-Sanchez. “We’ll also have the opportunity to have mobile units that will go throughout our community.”

Roach said staff members did a trial run for the mobile vaccination clinics Tuesday and hope to start providing those clinics to community members working in agriculture or living in rural areas of Yakima County as soon as next week.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll have three fully functional mobile teams by the end of the week,” Roach said.

Roach said Yakima was chosen for the pilot program for several reasons, including the high COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rate the county experienced last summer.

He also pointed to its diverse community, large vulnerable populations and the high amount of  agricultural products the county produces, which both the state and the rest of the country rely on.

“It’s the spot that shined brightest on the map,” Roach said.

Get the word out to your friends and family in the Yakima area. Get registered and get vaccinated. Yakima Health District

Posted by Western Washington Type 3 Incident Managment Team on Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Badillo-Sanchez said the increased number of doses available will help keep up with the thousands more Yakima County residents who became eligible for vaccination Wednesday under Phase 1B Tiers 3 and 4.

“Just a reminder: if you are in Phase 1A or Phase 1B Tier 1 and 2, you are still eligible,” Badillo-Sanchez said. “If you haven’t gotten your vaccine yet, please schedule your appointment at this location.”

Roach said if the pilot program is successful in Yakima, it will serve as a blueprint for similar vaccination sites across the country.

“We are able to reach more people and get them all vaccinated to not only protect themselves, but to protect others around them and to create this immunity for our community,” Badillo-Sanchez said.

The site is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and Friday to Sunday; on Thursday, the site is open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Appointments can be made using the PrepMod website here.

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*Several officials previously said that the site was the first fully federally-funded mass vaccination site in the country, but FEMA officials later corrected that information to show it’s the first site in the state, not the country. This article has been updated to reflect that change.