‘Team Vaccine’ celebrates a victory at Yakima Valley School

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Resident Cissy Harris receives support while also receiving her Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 5, 2021.

The holidays are over, but it felt a little like Christmas this week for about 125 people at Yakima Valley School who received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Three teams from Walgreens visited the site in Selah Jan. 5 and inoculated 44 residents at the state-run center for persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and about 80 employees who care for them.

“There was an excitement in the room today,” said Jill Sinsel-McPherson, Assistant Superintendent. “People were very optimistic and thrilled with the opportunity.”

Leading up to the vaccination clinic, a group of YVS employees supported by Walgreens and dubbed, ‘Team Vaccine,’ worked endless hours planning the event. All campus residents and staff were offered the vaccine, and Team Vaccine ensured they received educational materials (gathered from the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Health) to help them make informed decisions. Yakima Valley School also hosted online meetings for families and guardians; allowing two-way dialogue and an avenue for people to ask their questions and have them answered in real-time.

“This has been a good experience for YVS staff,” said Sinsel-McPherson. “Walgreens has been invested to make the clinic work very well for our facility and the teamwork has been appreciated.”

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Jill Sinsel-McPherson, Yakima Valley School assistant superintendent receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The U.S. federal government partnered with Walgreens (and other pharmaceutical companies across the country) as a component of the national vaccination program. DSHS’ Developmental Disabilities Administration applied for each of its four residential habilitation centers to receive the vaccine through the federal program. Although emergency staffing plans were in place, the facility saw no negative effects or illness in those who were vaccinated.

Undeniably, COVID-19 has been hard on everyone and the pandemic is particularly difficult for persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

“This vaccine feels like a win!” said Tammy Winegar, Superintendent. “The social isolation individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities are enduring is extremely difficult. Much of their joy comes from interaction with others and they are missing time spent with the community.”

For more information about how DSHS is caring for its Developmental Disabilities Administration clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the webpage.

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