The Snoqualmie Tribe’s Vaccination Clinic: A Firsthand Account & Gov. Jay Inslee Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Expands to all Washington Adults

Gov. Inslee announced today that effective April 15, all Washington residents over the age of 16 will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

I had the luck to be in the right place at the right time and grab one of a minimal amount of vaccinations offered by the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe on their Facebook page.

The vaccinations were offered by a Facebook post at 5:00 pm Monday to anyone 18 years and older who lives in the Snoqualmie Tribe’s ancestral lands. I was told tonight by a volunteer at my much-coveted time that all vaccine appointments were filled within three minutes. I know this to be true because I tried to get one for my honey and failed.

Since Washington State began its vaccination program, the Department of Health has followed a tiered eligibility system, beginning with those most at risk of hospitalization and death. The state also prioritized equity in each phase to ensure access to populations disproportionately affected by the virus.

As a sovereign nation, the Tribe can order COVID-19 vaccines for its community and determine its own methodology for prioritizing population groups for vaccination separate from the State of Washington’s phased plan.

They have provided close to 4000 vaccinations so far and may hold one more if there are any more appointments available to individuals who live on Snoqualmie Tribe ancestral lands; those appointments will be posted on their Facebook page. However, soon the tribal vaccine clinic will be moving to a new location, so watch for that announcement soon. Note: the tribe does not maintain a waitlist and has not wasted any doses.

I arrived at the Snoqualmie Casino for my appointment and found a well-marked parking lot with attendants instructing me where to park and get in line. Once inside, my temperature was taken, and I was given a sticker with my appointment time and asked to fill out some paperwork.

Within 15 minutes, I was ushered into another room where first a volunteer checked my paperwork, and then a doctor asked me some questions about allergies and reactions. After a brief back and forth about which arm I would like my vaccine in (which side do I sleep on anyway?), and an Eastside Fire and Rescue member named Maya gave me an entirely painless shot in a curtained room.

After receiving a card with the time I could leave, 15 minutes for me, 30 minutes for those at risk of an allergic reaction, a volunteer showed me to a row of chairs where I waited. I was offered water during this time, given my vaccination card and an appointment card with my second shot date and time. I received a goodie bag on my way out the door less than an hour after arriving. The Tribe, Eastside Fire and Rescue and many volunteers are operating a well-oiled machine.

Good thing, too, because, according to the Governor’s office, the expansion of vaccine eligibility comes, in part, in response to the recent uptick in COVID cases statewide.

“We must do everything possible to ensure that we can keep cases down,” Inslee said during a press conference Wednesday. “We have concerns about the trends we are seeing across the state and we must be cautious. Opening up full eligibility will be one tool to help in the fight against the virus.”

We all are encouraged to continue following public health guidelines – masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds, etc. – to slow the spread of Covid-19.  The upper Snoqualmie Valley is currently experiencing a case uptick. Over the past two weeks, North Bend has reported 11 new Covid-19 cases and Snoqualmie has reported 21 new cases.

Washington State Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah stated, “Vaccine is the tool we need to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is pleased everyone age 16 and older will be eligible for vaccine starting April 15, which also marks the four-month anniversary of vaccine rollout in Washington.”

Roughly 3.3 million doses have been administered in Washington to date, and more than one million residents have been fully vaccinated.

Thank you, Snoqualmie Tribe, for doing what you can to help us all take a step towards normalcy. We all appreciate everything you do for your community.

If you are one of the lucky recipients of a vaccine at the Snoqualmie Tribe Vaccination Clinic and you’re wondering how you can show your gratitude, check out this page with their list of ten things you can do to help.

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