Vaccination Rates Low in Northeast Washington State

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There won't be long lines at local border crossings if American visitors become eligible as scheduled on Mon. Aug. 9.

Fully vaccinated U-S visitors will be allowed in, but only about a third of residents in border area communities have only received their first doses.

Northeast Tri County Health District Administrator Matt Schanz says many residents are wary of the vaccines.

“About the development of the vaccines, the speed at which they were developed and what do we know about the long term consequences of being vaccinated,” said Schanz.

First-dose vaccination rates vary among communities closest to the Kootenay-Boundary border crossings.

Republic, about 60km south of Grand Forks is at 44%, with Metaline Falls about 45km south of Salmo at 34%.

In areas south of Greater Trail, Northport has a 40% rate, while the Colville area is at 34% and Kettle Falls at 31%.

Schanz is hoping reluctant residents reconsider.

“The most appropriate way for people to get vaccinated now is to have that meaningful conversation with accurate information about the vaccines safety and efficacy with their primary care provider,” said the health district administrator.

Full vaccination rates in Kootenay-Boundary Health Districts also vary.

Greater Trail was at 69% on July 29 according to the B-C Centre for Disease Control.

Castlegar which was a hot spot the week of July 18-24 with 29 new COVID-19 infections, increased to 61%.

Grand Forks and Arrow Lakes were at 60%, Nelson and Kootenay Lake at 57%, Kettle Valley at 54% and the Creston Valley at 52%.

Schanz indicated the best defense against the virus since February has been innoculations as almost everyone in Ferry, Pend Oreille and Stevens County’s who caught the coronavirus were not vaccinated.

He added that has also been the common thread in the most serious cases.

“96% of the hospitalizations were cases that were not fully vaccinated. 94% of the deaths related to COVID-19 were in those that were not fully vaccinated,” said Schanz.