COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Page Updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 4:38 p.m.

Anyone in Phase 1A or Phase 1B Tier 1 is now able to be vaccinated.

There are two tiers in Phase 1A and four tiers in Phase 1B. Only individuals in Phase 1B Tier 1 are eligible to be vaccinated right now. Review the full description of the guidance summary here. 

Phase 1A Tier 1 Includes:
Phase 1A Tier 2 Includes:
Phase 1B Tier 1 Includes:
  • High-risk workers in health care settings. 
  • First responders working in emergency medical services at high risk of exposure to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients via high public exposure and procedures. 
  • Residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other community-based, congregate living settings where most individuals over 65 years of age are receiving care, supervision, or assistance.

  • All other workers in health care settings at risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
  • All people 65 years and older.

  • People 50 years and older who live in multigenerational households.


Your safe and effective protection against the virus

A vaccine to protect you, your family, and your community from COVID-19 is now arriving in Whatcom County. We are working closely with our local, state, and federal partners to manage allocation and administration of vaccine doses as they arrive. We are committed to an equitable distribution of a safe and effective vaccine.

I am looking for: 

When will a vaccine be available?

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for use on December 12th, and the Moderna vaccine was approved on December 18th. There are other vaccines being developed as well. But even as safe, effective vaccines are approved, there are many more steps involved in distributing and administering them. There will only be a limited supply in the earliest stages until production catches up with demand. 

Who will get the vaccine first?

Everyone who wishes to be vaccinated will be able to get vaccinated. Right now there is enough vaccine supply to meet demand. More vaccine doses are on the way, but it will take time to distribute them broadly.

Vaccine administration is occuring in phases. We are currently in Phase 1B Tier 1, as defined by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Currently, anyone in Phase 1B and Phase 1B Tier 1 can be vaccinated.

Phase 1A:

  • High-risk, frontline workers in healthcare settings.
  • People who live or work in long-term care. 
  • All other healthcare workers.

Phase 1B Tier 1:

  • All people over the age of 65.
  • People 50 years or older who live in multigenerational households.

You can review the full Phase1B Tier 1 eligibility on the DOH website.

Is the vaccine safe?

Vaccines must pass some of the toughest safety measures in medicine. The process to approve and monitor vaccines has been around for decades. It’s the same process used to develop vaccines for measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), and the seasonal flu.

The process to bring a safe and effective vaccine to you begins with clinical trials. Trials are ongoing for COVID-19 vaccines under development. Throughout vaccine development and distribution, there are numerous safety measures. These include:

  • The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes and monitors the trials.
  • Two other independent advisory committees provide oversight and monitor for safety during vaccine development and testing. 
  • Another committee continues to monitor for safety and adverse effects when a safe and effective vaccine is ready for distribution. 

As vaccines are authorized by the FDA, Washington State, along with other western states, will do an independent review of the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. We will only promote safe and effective vaccines.

Where will I be able to get a vaccine?

In our community, we have a strong network of pharmacies, tribal health centers, community health centers, and primary care providers who will be able to offer the vaccine. As vaccine supply increases, you will be able to get it in the places you normally get vaccines, such as health clinics and pharmacies.

If you are in Phase 1B Tier 1, you can check your healthcare provider's website to see if they are an enrolled vaccine provider, if they have a supply of vaccine, and if they are taking appointments.

I'm a healthcare worker. When and where will I be able to get vaccinated?

You should talk to your employer, and they will be able to help you get connected to a vaccine provider who is vaccinating "unaffiliated" Phase 1A employees (employees who work for an agency that is not enrolled as a vaccine provider).

My staff are healthcare workers. How can I get them vaccinated?

Consider becoming a vaccine provider. Get details about how to enroll.

You can email us at covid@co.whatcom.wa.us, and we'll help you get in touch with an enrolled provider to have your staff vaccinated.

In the meantime you can:

  • Assess staff roles to prioritize employees with the highest risk for COVID-19 exposure. 
  • Communicate with your staff to determine who wants to be vaccinated. 
  • Consider how to rotate your staff who are getting vaccinated in a manner that will not leave you short-staffed if any of them experience any side effects from the vaccine. 
  • Engage in planning with your employee health provider about access to vaccines for your employees. 

How much will it cost?

The vaccine will be provided at no cost. It will be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance, and the cost of the vaccine will be covered for people who are uninsured. 

How many doses will I need?

Some of the vaccines in development require a single dose. For others, you’ll need more than one dose over time. Check with your healthcare provider about how many doses you may need. 

When will we be able to open things back up again?

There’s so much we don’t yet know that depends on our ability to administer the available vaccines throughout the population. We’ll be following the science closely to see how effective the vaccines are at stopping transmission and reducing the severity of disease.

It will still be critically important to follow standard COVID-19 precautions such as mask wearing, physical distancing and hand washing even after we have a vaccine. Everyone looks forward to a return to normal. Vaccination is a part of that, but we must remain vigilant until we achieve a high rate of vaccination in the general population.

There are systems in place from the Washington State Immunization Information System (WAIIS)  to track vaccine uptake. All vaccine providers will use that system to track immunization records for COVID-19. That will give us good data on how widespread vaccination is in our community.

I would like to volunteer. How can I help?

Thank you for your interest in volunteering to help with our local COVID-19 vaccination effort! While the WCHD and WUC are not staffing vaccination clinics at this time, you can apply as a volunteer for future community clinics. To sign up, go to www.whatcomcovid.com/volunteer. Licensed medical professionals who would like to volunteer to administer vaccines can fill out the form “Medical Licensed Personnel Volunteer”. Volunteers can also help with other jobs like traffic control, scheduling, set-up, and more. If you are not a medical professional and want to volunteer, fill out the General Volunteer form. 

We are also taking applications for volunteers for our COVID-19 testing and contract tracing operations. To sign up for COVID-19 testing volunteer roles, fill out a form at www.whatcomcovid.com/volunteer. If you’d like to volunteer as a contact tracer, sign up on WCHD’s website.

How can I stay informed?

We’ll continue to update this page. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine planning, development and safety standards from DOH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You can also sign up for email updates. Select Health - Public Health News, Health - Vaccine Updates for Businesses, or Health - Vaccine Updates for Schools to subscribe to email updates with the latest local information about the COVID-19 vaccine.