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COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Bellingham and Whatcom County

Bellingham Public Library has gathered information from multiple sources to help the public navigate the COVID-19 vaccine availability within our community. Rollout of the vaccine is administered by the Washington State Department of Health, and locally by the Whatcom County Health Department. This information will continue to be updated regularly.

General Information on the COVID-19 Vaccine

Check these sources for Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, including who is currently eligible, the cost, vaccine safety, versions available and other concerns.

  • Whatcom County Health Department COVID-19 Vaccine Information includes an overview of the vaccine phases, safety, and potential locations.
  • Washington State Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine page includes information on vaccine safety, and how vaccines work, as well as the state’s vaccine distribution plan.
  • PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions includes more indepth information about vaccine safety and availability through PeaceHealth.

Covid-19 Booster Doses for Adults

On Nov. 20, 2021 the Washington State Department of Health announced booster doses of all three COVID-19 vaccine types are now available for everyone 18 and older. The expansion comes following recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

At least six months after receiving both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Adults age 50 and older, or those 18 and older living in a long-term care facility, should receive a booster dose, and
  • Those 18 through 49 may receive a booster dose.

Everyone 18 and older who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster shot two months after getting vaccinated.

“We want people to be as safe and as healthy as possible. Expanding booster eligibility to all adults will further protect families, especially as we gather for the holidays,” said Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH. “We know COVID-19 vaccines work, and boosters further increase immunity and protection. If you are 18 or older, and enough time has passed, I strongly encourage you to get a booster dose.”

Booster doses are especially important for those at high risk of severe COVID-19, including older adults, people with chronic conditions, and anyone living in a congregate setting. Across Washington, more than 860,000 people have received an additional dose, which includes both booster doses and third doses. Any of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently available for use may be administered as a booster dose, regardless of which vaccine was used for the primary series.

Vaccines for Children Ages 5 – 11

Everyone age 5 and older is currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. People who have not yet been vaccinated are highly encouraged to make an appointment today to protect themselves and those around them. To find a vaccine location near you, visit Vaccine Locator or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Language assistance if available.

How to determine eligibility status for the COVID-19 Vaccine

As of May 12, 2021 the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to everyone 12 and older following recommendations that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe and extremely effective for 12 to 15-year-olds.

“Expanding eligibility to this younger age group protects our children and gives families peace of mind. It is the best step we can take as parents to ensure our kids remain in the classroom, can safely spend time with friends, and take part in sports and extracurricular activities,” said Umair A. Shah. MD, MPH. “Research continues to show this vaccine is safe and I am thrilled it is now an option for parents and their young teens.”

The two-dose vaccine has been authorized for people 16 and older since December, 2020. In March, Pfizer announced findings from its vaccine trial which found the vaccine to be safe and 100% effective for kids as young as 12. The company reported the vaccine produced an antibody response in children that exceeded those in earlier trials of older teens and young adults.

Although fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, children can be infected with the virus, get sick, and spread the virus to others. Most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all. However, some children can get severely ill and may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breath. In rare cases, children can die.

COVID-19 vaccine side effects generally mirror those experienced by adults, which may include sore arm, fatigue, or headache. Families that have questions about the vaccine are encouraged to reach out to their child’s health care provider to determine the best option for them. Those under age 18 may need consent from a parent or guardian to get the vaccine, unless they are legally emancipated.

Where to Find COVID-19 Vaccination locations in Whatcom County

Washington State has established an online map of Vaccine Locations. This tool allows you to find locations providing vaccines when supply allows. Scroll through the list of counties to find providers and retail pharmacies offering vaccines in Whatcom County. You are asked NOT to call these providers, but you can check availability through their websites. Some require an appointment, some do not.

Safe Behaviors Post-Vaccine

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has adopted the guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding post-vaccine behavior.

The CDC is quite clear that vaccinated people should continue to wear masks when they’re in public, avoid crowds and take other precautions when gathering with unvaccinated people who are at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

If a vaccinated person has been around someone with COVID-19, they do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless they have symptoms. However, if a vaccinated person lives in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and is around someone who has COVID-19, they should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if without symptoms.

Regardless of vaccination status, people should still take steps to protect themselves and others while in public settings. This includes wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. In addition, people should still avoid medium or large-sized gatherings and continue to watch for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if they’ve been around someone who is sick.