Yakima drive-thru mass vaccination site opens

YAKIMA, Wash. — The Yakima County drive-thru mass vaccination site at State Fair Park is scheduled to open Wednesday morning after months of planning and preparation.

Health officials said the site will eventually be able to administer at least 500 vaccine doses per day, which will add to the vaccines already being administered by local hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. However, this week, the drive-thru mass vaccination site will only be administering 500 doses total to make sure the system is working.

Nathan Johnson, Local Emergency Response Coordinator for the Yakima Health District, said with the state moving into Phase 1B Tier 2 on Wednesday, the county is expecting demand for vaccinations to increase.

“We’re really going to see an influx of individuals who have the opportunity to get the vaccine,” Johnson said. “If you can’t get an appointment right away, please just keep trying.”

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Appointments are required for the drive-thru mass vaccination site and can be made online at the Prep Mod website. The site will be closed Mondays and open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays.

“The drive thru site is very crucial to the community because it is allowing for accessible and low barrier options for the community,” Johnson said.

Individuals must qualify under the state’s current eligibility guidelines, wear a face mask and stay in their car  during their scheduled appointments. The drive-thru community-based testing site at State Fair Park will continue to operate.

According to the Yakima Health District, local health organizations have administered 39,674 first doses and 18,462 second doses countywide, but more residents are still waiting in line. Health officials said while the addition of the drive-thru mass vaccination site will help, the pandemic is far from over.

“We can’t let our guard down,” said Kim Bersing, Director of Emergency Services at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. “You still need to wear masks out in public, socially distance and take precautions, wash your hands. If you have symptoms of COVID, make sure that you get tested and we’ll get out of this together.”