COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for veterinary professionals

  |   COVID-19, Wellness

As reported last month, the WSVMA has been advocating with Gov. Inslee’s office and with the Wash. Dept. of Health for veterinarians and their teams to be included in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination distribution plan. In late October, we sent a letter and have followed up with them again to reiterate the important reasons why veterinary professionals qualify for early vaccinations.

  • Veterinarians and veterinary teams contribute directly to supporting the food and agriculture industries, providing services that are considered essential to continued critical infrastructure viability. In addition to providing critical support for the sufficiency and safety of our nation’s food supply, veterinarians also help ensure the health and wellbeing of the pets that share our homes. Those pets have played an important role in supporting their owners’ physical and mental wellbeing during the pandemic.
  • We are at risk of exposure. Although the veterinary profession has been creative in implementing important risk management controls during the pandemic, maintaining physical distance from our clients and staff members can be difficult when handling animals or performing medical procedures. To ensure animals receive appropriate care, we may be regularly exposed to members of the public who are symptomatically or asymptomatically ill, as well as to certain animal species that we know can be infected with SARS-CoV-2.
  • Veterinary professionals actively protect animal and public health through surveillance for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in animals. Our surveillance function extends well beyond SARS-CoV-2, encompassing other potentially zoonotic and non-zoonotic diseases.
  • The high degree of public trust in veterinary professionals supports veterinarians actively sharing public health messaging about the importance of vaccination. Such messaging is most effectively conveyed if veterinarians and veterinary teams have themselves received the vaccine.

It’s unclear if we’ll be included in Phase 1B or if they decide to include veterinary professionals in Phase 2. The exception would be if particular members fit into other high-risk categories.

The Dept. of Health announced this week that they’ll know more soon about who will be vaccinated in later phases from guidance made by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and they plan to share the allocation and prioritization guides for future vaccine phases in the coming weeks. The interim plan can be viewed on the coronavirus vaccine webpage,

It will take time

It remains unclear how long it will take for enough people in the state to be vaccinated before life can return to normal. It’s estimated that 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated or immune before covid outbreaks will subside. In addition, there’s still much about the vaccine that’s unknown, including how long the vaccine’s protection will last. Until then, safety behaviors remain necessary.

For some, that news may feel somewhat discouraging. Behavioral health during natural disasters follows generally predictable patterns, according to experts at the Dept. of Health. At nine months into the pandemic, we’re in the disillusionment phase of the recovery cycle.

Pandemic apathy and exhaustion from the day-to-day management of the virus is a common experience right now. Vaccines give us hope but we must continue to be vigilant. Coping skills for pandemic apathy include developing awareness and insight into what’s driving our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Mental health experts recommend to develop a practice of pausing and taking a breath before you respond to a person or a situation and find ways to engage with things you care about while practicing safety guidelines.

To find support and resources for mental health during COVID-19, visit the Dept. of Health’s mental and emotional wellbeing web page. If you need someone to talk to about stress due to COVID-19, call Washington Listens at (833) 681–0211.

For more assistance, view the WSVMA Covid-19 webinar Managing Stress and Anxiety During A Pandemic. With Julie Squires. The webinar is free for all veterinarians and their teams. Register online at the WSVMA website. Password: COVIDJulie. One hour of CE is offered.

The minute we know what phase of the vaccine distribution plan veterinary professionals are to be included, we’ll send out an alert. In the meantime, hang in there.


Posted December 17, 2020