With all adults now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Cougar Health Services (CHS) is aiming to vaccinate at least 2,000 WSU Pullman students by the end of the spring semester.
About 1,000 students with two or more underlying health conditions, or who work in certain congregate settings like food service, received their first dose at CHS prior to eligibility opening to all Washington residents older than 16. The student vaccine clinics are scheduled to continue through the remainder of the semester.
“We reached out to students and asked them to check their eligibility status, and people were also referred to us by their physicians,” Joel Schwartzkopf, CHS executive director, said. “We’re confident we were able to vaccinate our most vulnerable and high-risk students.”
CHS receives its weekly vaccine allotments directly from Whitman County. Because of its ultra-cold storage capacity, CHS receives and administers the Pfizer vaccines to its clients.
The prospect of students returning to their home communities next month is driving CHS and other agencies to get as many fully vaccinated as possible.
“Students may be returning to places where vaccines are less readily available, and so as a matter of public health, we want to vaccinate as many of them as possible to prevent spikes across the state,” Schwartzkopf said.
An estimated additional 1,000 WSU students already have received vaccine doses from Pullman-area community clinics as well.
While CHS is focusing on vaccinations for students, WSU Pullman faculty and staff can turn to clinics at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Pullman Regional Hospital, among others, for their vaccines. Pharmacies also receive vaccine allotments directly from the federal government, representing another avenue for people to receive the vaccine.
The best way to find locations where vaccine appointments are available is by using the state’s Vaccine Locator tool. Entering a ZIP code yields a list of locations within a 50-mile radius.
Cougar Health Services maintains a clinic schedule that is regularly updated on its website. Clinics are hosted on Fridays to give people an opportunity to recover from any side effects like fatigue during the weekend before classes resume.
On average, CHS clinics have seen an average wait time of nine minutes for patients to move from the back of the line to the front. After receiving the vaccination, patients are then observed for at least 15 minutes to ensure no immediate reactions occur.
WSU Pullman students are asked to call 509-335-3575 or use CHS’s new online registration system to make an appointment. Students who are unable to get the second dose of the vaccine in Pullman can take their vaccine cards from CHS to a location back in their home communities, Schwartzkopf said.
Vaccines are expected to be given on an appointment-basis during the summer to serve the small population of students who remain in Pullman.