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COVID vaccine mandate helps drive up vaccinations in SW Washington

In Cowlitz County, the state’s impending vaccine mandate for many workers, along with delta variant concerns, appears to be causing an uptick in vaccinations.

LONGVIEW, Wash. —
In Cowlitz County, vaccination rates have risen, but they have a long way to go.

As a result of mandates, Community Health Partners has been delivering a lot of Johnson & Johnson vaccines lately.

“Absolutely the impending mandate meant people were seeking where could they get it, we've had people calling us, ‘Oh I need to get it, can I come in right away,'” said Kenneth Dale, executive director of Community Health partners. “We're just happy they're here to get a shot whatever their motivation is.”

On Tuesday morning, KGW talked to a couple of people at the clinic who said they needed the shot to travel.

Vaccinations are up from a low of 140 a day in July to about 350 a day now in Cowlitz County, but that's not enough. The numbers are dipping again, just a bit, according to Deputy Health Officer Dr. Steven Krager.

“So, I'm hopeful that people again don't get complacent and see cases are falling and they don't need to worry about it, hopefully, we still have some urgency to get vaccinated,” said Krager.

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Vaccination rates are well below the statewide rate, with 50.6% of those eligible fully vaccinated and 55.8% initiating vaccination. Statewide, 64% of those eligible percent fully vaccinated and 75% have received at least one dose.

Cowlitz County Public Health said case rates are coming down, but still very high in the county with at least two people a day dying from COVID. 

Darren Harlan has cancer and deals with a heart condition. His doctors held off on getting him vaccinated because he wasn't feeling well. After getting vaccinated at the clinic, he said he felt better.

"Because I feel a little bit more [like] even if I did get it I don't feel like it's gonna do me in,” said Harlan, who is from Vader, in Lewis County. 

Harlan said he already had COVID early on but fortunately avoided serious symptoms.  

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Community Health Partners also provides a variety of free medical, dental and vision services. You can learn more and schedule a vaccination appointment on their website.

Cowlitz County Public Health posts information about coronavirus in the county on its Facebook page.