Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Mississippi, on Sunday.

Residents and staff at some long-term care centers in Yakima received their first COVID-19 vaccines this week.

Walgreens began vaccinations Tuesday morning at Landmark Care at a clinic set up by the facility’s pharmacy. Landmark was one of the first in the Yakima Valley to receive the vaccine.

A partnership between the federal government and CVS and Walgreens kicked in this week that is vaccinating residents and staff at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and adult family homes. The pharmacies are guided by the state on which facilities to prioritize.

Jane Davis, administrator at Landmark Care, said 57 residents and 32 staff were given their first doses this week. The vaccines are given at no cost.

“We are starting to see the end. We’ve still got a long ways to go, but we want our residents to see their families and to open up our doors,” she said.

Landmark has had COVID restrictions in place since March. The facility has lost 13 residents to the virus since the start of the pandemic. Thirty-nine residents and 45 staff have recovered, with no staff deaths.

Prestige Care and Rehabilitation-Parkside in Union Gap began vaccinations Thursday, when 25 staff members and 35 patients received their first dose of the vaccine.

“We are extremely grateful for vaccine availability and strongly believe that this will be a lifesaving turning point in our fight against this virus,” Prestige said in a statement.

Countywide update

The first COVID-19 vaccines are going to frontline health care workers and long-term care staff and residents.

As of Wednesday, 4,450 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been distributed to seven sites across Yakima, according to the Yakima Health District. Of those, 1,810 were given to health care workers.

The Department of Health says it hopes to complete the first dose of vaccinations at long-term care homes throughout the state within the coming three weeks. Next week, it plans to release information about who will be prioritized for the next round of vaccines.

Long-term care facilities have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic. According to the most updated figures from the Department of Health, 12,501 COVID-19 cases and 1,627 deaths have been identified as associated with long-term care facilities in Washington state.

The local health district said there isn’t a time frame yet on when the vaccine will be widely available to the general public.

“This will depend on available vaccine stock across the country, and how much is allocated in Yakima County in the coming weeks,” the district said in a news release Thursday.

Margaux Maxwell reports for the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. She can be reached at mmaxwell@yakimaherald.com.

Digital News Director

Margaux Maxwell reports for the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. She can be reached at mmaxwell@yakimaherald.com.