‘It’s a huge undertaking for everyone involved’: N. Idaho vaccines get to health district as fast as they go out

KOOTENAI CO., Idaho — Vaccine appointments posted by Kootenai Health were gone in just a little more than an hour after it was posted.

Those weren’t the only ones posted Wednesday, either. The Panhandle Health District posted more than a thousand appointments for its own vaccine clinic, which also ended up getting booked.

Both Panhandle Health and Kootenai Health booked a total of 2,200 vaccine appointments for Kootenai County.

Of those appointments, Lynne Robinson was not able to book one. At 64 years old, she never thought she’d wish to be older.

“I don’t want to be old, but I wish I was at 65,” she told 4 News Now.

She wishes to be one year older, because she wants the COVID vaccine that much. She feels as if she’s missing out, especially since her 69-year-old husband just received his shot Wednesday morning.

“I get my second vaccine in two weeks and she still has to wait like six weeks to get her first on,” said Chip Kelly, Robinson’s husband.

Robinson is currently lumped into the group with 16-64 year olds. That group, which is identified as the third one in Idaho, is not supposed to get the vaccine until March, at latest, April.

Idaho is currently vaccinating people in group two. That includes those older than 65, teachers, food workers and more.

The Panhandle Health District knows people are waiting on the edge of their seat, but they can only do so much with how many vaccines they get.

Katherine Hoyer, the public information officer with the health district, says they are getting more doses now than they used to. They started with 1,200 doses and now this week, they received 4,300 doses.

“We have the capacity to do more. We know some of our enrolled providers can also do more. So really, we’re just limited on our supply. That supply is being used as quickly as we receive it,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer said it could take 10 to 12 weeks to vaccinate people ages 65 and older. Of the more than 50,000 people living in North Idaho in that age group, only about 1,600 people have been vaccinated.

“We’re already struggling to keep up with the 65 plus age group and get them vaccinated as quickly as possible. I know we want to make exceptions, but if we start doing that, then it really, it pushes the rest of those people back even further,” Hoyer said.

The health district knows people are anxious and they continue to ask when it’s their turn. Hoyer asks people to be patient, and while they wait, to continue washing their hands, wearing masks and watching their distance from others.

“It’s a huge undertaking for everyone involved, but know that PHD and the community partners who are helping us vaccinate, everyone in these groups, we’re all working together to vaccinate as quickly as possible,” Hoyer said.

It’s all just a matter of waiting right now.

“I’m pretty anxious because I think I’m a lot more active than Chip. He’s more of a home-body than I am. I like to get out and about. I don’t want to bring it home either,” Robinson said.

The next time appointments for Kootenai Health and Panhandle Health open up will be Wednesday, February 10. Panhandle opens up spots at 9 a.m. Kootenai Health’s opens at 4 p.m.

For more information on how to book an appointment at Kootenai Health, click here; for Panhandle Health, click here.