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Spokane will receive 3,900 vaccines in first shipment

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are set to arrive next week, according to the health department. It's currently unknown which providers will be getting doses.

SPOKANE, Wash — Spokane County will receive 3,900 COVID-19 vaccine doses in the first shipment, according to the Spokane Regional Health District. 

It's still unknown which healthcare providers will be getting the first doses, and exactly which day they'll arrive, the health district said. 

Many of the other details surrounding the vaccine are still fuzzy. Here's what else we do and don't know so far. 

We have a general understanding of the process the vaccine has to go through to actually reach patients locally. First, it's manufactured by Pfizer. Then, it's collected by the federal government, which in turns distributes vaccines to the states. The state governments will then issue doses to healthcare providers, like hospitals and clinics, and those providers will at last be able to administer the vaccine to actual patients.

Right now, we know that Washington state will have its hands on about 62,000 doses by next week. Then, it will be sent to providers who have to enroll in the state's vaccine program.

RELATED: Washington's COVID-19 vaccine plan expected to be submitted this week

Three likely major providers in Spokane are CHAS Health, Providence, and MultiCare. All three confirmed to KREM on Thursday that they are enrolled in the state vaccine program. None knows yet how many doses they'll receive or exactly when they'll receive them, and representatives said the process will happen in phases.

"At this point, we anticipate possibly being able to start the first patient phase in January," a representative from CHAS wrote in an email to KREM.

So our best answer for when the first vaccine might actually be administered in Spokane is early January. Only a handful of people will actually be able to get the vaccine at that time. So the next big question: who gets first priority?

There aren't any definite decisions made on that either. In fact, multiple teams of medical ethicists are working at the federal level to prepare guidelines for exactly this question.

We do know so far that higher-risk groups will be prioritized. 

We know that the very first priority, meaning people who will most likely to get access to this first round of doses, fall into one of two groups: employees working in healthcare settings where they may be exposed to COVID-19, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities.

As for the rest of us, we'll likely still have to wait a little longer into 2021.

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