National Guard to help San Juan County with vaccine distribution

Submitted by San Juan County

In the good news department, a joint effort between San Juan County, the Washington National Guard, and the Washington State Department of Health is planning to deliver 1,900 first doses of the COVID vaccine over next week (Feb. 15-19). The team will return 28 days later to deliver the second dose.

Registration for these vaccine events will open at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 10. For the latest vaccine registration information and the updated link to the registration form, please visit

Approximately 380 first doses will be delivered each day, with one day on Lopez and two days each on San Juan and Orcas.

“The islands haven’t had the benefit of large healthcare systems or chain pharmacies to support our vaccine effort and to date, the work has been done exclusively by the county and smaller healthcare providers,” San Juan County Council Chair Jamie Stephens said. “This will be a considerable boost to our efforts.”

A number of organizations and agencies are supporting the effort in conjunction with the County. Fire and Rescue responders from each island will be providing traffic control and site safety. The Fairgrounds, Lopez Center, and Orcas Center staff and leadership have all welcomed the opportunity to provide support. A team of community volunteers will be helping as well. Even local businesses have stepped up, with Kings Market in Friday Harbor offering to feed the soldiers and volunteers during some of the long days they’ll be working.

“We are thrilled that this service has been made available to San Juan County and for the support of the National Guard in this effort,” a Kings Market owner said. “Kings is happy to provide a small thank you to those who are working to protect this wonderful community.”

While this won’t vaccinate everyone islander currently eligible for the vaccine, it will move the islands much closer to that goal.

“Our effort has been limited by vaccine supplies and our staff has been working tirelessly,” San Juan County Health & Community Services Director Mark Tompkins said. “To not only receive the doses of vaccine but also personnel to support delivery is something we should all be thankful for.”

Islanders, if you see a soldier in uniform next week, don’t panic. Take a moment to thank them in a masked and socially distanced kind of way.

“Washington Department of Health went far out of their way to make this happen. These service members coming to help us are Washington residents and are leaving families and day-jobs behind to support us,” Stephens said. “They’ve been working tirelessly for weeks helping to deliver vaccine across the state and the entire County Council looks forward to our community giving the entire team a true island-style welcome.”