Without vaccines, Yakima County mass vaccination clinic at a standstill

Emily Goodell, KAPP-KVEW
The Yakima County Mass Vaccination Clinic at State Fair Park has almost everything it needs to open — except the vaccine.

YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima County officials have almost everything they need to open a permanent, drive-thru mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at State Fair Park — everything except the vaccine.

At a press conference Tuesday, officials said they have the outdoor tents set up, the supplies purchased and staffing arranged to be able to vaccinate 500 people daily, but will not be able to open until the state commits to sending them vaccine doses.

“The purpose of doing this ahead of time is to send a very clear message that we are prepared in Yakima County to do mass vaccinations,” Yakima County Commissioner Amanda McKinney said. “The state has chosen to send these vaccines to other areas. We don’t want to be overlooked.”

Rather than wait to set the clinic up after the county receives more vaccine doses, McKinney said they wanted to show the state they had the infrastructure in place to handle their own mass vaccination site and that they would be able to start almost immediately.

County officials said they hope to open the clinic in the next few weeks, but as opening is dependent on them receiving vaccine doses, there’s no firm time frame for opening.

The mass vaccination clinic would operate similarly to the COVID-19 testing clinic set up at the same location, with residents making an appointment online, waiting in line in the parking lot and entering an outdoor tent — completing the whole process from inside their car.

Yakima County currently has 12 sites administering the vaccine, all appointment-only and located inside a clinic, hospital or pharmacy. The operation at the county fairgrounds would be the first drive-thru vaccination site countywide.

More than 11,000 people in Yakima County had received their first COVID-19 vaccination as of Tuesday and about 2,000 had received the booster shot. Yakima Health District officials said at least 40,000 people countywide are eligible as part of Phase A and Phase B Tier 1 to receive the vaccine.