Walla Walla County Progress and the Ongoing Vaccine Clinic
By Eli Haynal
Along with Washington as a whole, Walla Walla county has made considerable steps forward in their vaccine distribution program; there is a vaccination clinic operating at the Walla Walla fairgrounds, and college students are now eligible to receive the vaccine by several different methods.
First, the WWU Center for Humanitarian Engagement has been providing student volunteers to the vaccine clinic operating at the fairgrounds. Student volunteers are given the opportunity to obtain the vaccine at the end of their shift, and many students have already been vaccinated in this manner. 
Students can sign up for these volunteer opportunities on the Walla Walla University Center for Humanitarian Engagement website (https://www.wallawalla.edu/?id=5182). These opportunities have recently become more limited, but a second COVID-19 vaccination option has just become available to University students.
Washington state is currently in vaccine distribution phase 1B, tiers three and four, meaning that anyone 16 and older with underlying health conditions can receive the vaccine.  However, WWU has recently opened a special opportunity for all students over 16 to receive the vaccine on April 14 and 15.
It is currently unclear whether this special opportunity will be offered in the future or whether students who do not get the vaccine now will need to wait until the state moves to the next phase of its vaccination schedule. The situation is dependent on regional demand.
For those worried about side effects, the Centers for Disease Control website offers a brief description of possible effects and even advice on how to combat them. Some pain and inflammation may occur in the vaccination area, and an individual may experience some tiredness, headaches, muscle pain, chills, fever, and/or nausea. However, these should vanish within a few days and can be minimized by applying a wet washcloth, exercising the arm, dressing lightly, and staying hydrated. 
All of these vaccination options are being provided through the clinic at the Walla Walla fairgrounds, which is operated by the Washington State Department of Health. According to their website, they will post availability schedules at the end of each week, and future vaccination opportunities will be determined based on this information. 
As of this January, Washington state was not on track to offer the vaccine to everyone over the age of 16 until the end of 2021, so the current state of affairs is considerably ahead of the planned schedule.  Additionally, Walla Walla county is in phase three of the reopening schedule, the most advanced phase. 
This means that the county must remain below 200 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period and five new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents during a seven-day period.  Most recently, the county saw 85 new cases and two new hospitalizations for these groups during the stated period. 
All of the counties in Washington state are currently in phase three of the reopening schedule, so Walla Walla county is keeping pace with the rest. However, in terms of the metrics needed to maintain phase three status, Walla Walla county is outperforming much of the rest of the state. 
Despite these encouraging metrics, vigilance is still strongly recommended to continue in a pattern of progress. WWU strongly encourages all students to get the vaccine as soon as they have the opportunity to do so.
- Walla Walla University Center for Humanitarian Engagement. COVID-19 Response. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3uuubSy.
- Walla Walla County Department of Community Health. COVID-19 Vaccine Information. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3t42Whs.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 16). Possible Side Effects After Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3uvwIMc.
- Walla Walla County Department of Community Health. Upcoming Vaccine Clinics. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2Q4yeWS.
- Washington State Department of Health. WA state COVID-19 vaccine prioritization guidance and interim allocation framework. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2L3ZTVW.
- Walla Walla County Department of Community Health. Stay Safe Stop COVID-19. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3cZPxl0.
- Walla Walla County Department of Community Health. COVID-19 Data Walla Walla County. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3wIgPE8.
- Washington State Coronavirus Response. Roadmap to Recovery Metrics. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3sYpbFv.
Hello! The name at the top of this page might say “Elijah Haynal,” but if you ever meet me please call me Eli. I am a freshman at WWU this year majoring in Biology, Math, and Pre-Med, and in my free time I enjoy reading, thinking, and going places (although I sadly haven’t been able to do the last of these much this year). I hope you enjoy my articles and if you ever see me around campus I hope you’ll say hello!