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Pierce County executive asks for more COVID-19 vaccines for Phase 2 rollback

While the Pierce County Executive wants more vaccine doses, the local director of health says residents need to follow basic pandemic protocols.

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier is urging the state to increase the county's vaccine supply by 15,000 doses a week. 

The request comes as Pierce, along with Cowlitz and Whitman, counties have been downgraded to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee's "Healthy Washington" reopening plan. All three counties are experiencing a rise in case rates and hospitalizations.

“The rollback is a definite frustrating event for the people of Pierce County and for me, as their executive,” Dammeier said.

He believes the current vaccine distribution system is broken, “To me, that’s a supply problem. We’ve got more than enough capacity in people who are out there and delivering jabs in arms. So to me... we’re not getting sufficient supply of doses in from the state."

RELATED: Pierce County one of three moving back to Phase 2 of Washington's reopening plan

Dr. Anthony Chen with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not see more vaccines as the solution to the current spike in coronavirus cases in Pierce County.

“Whatever vaccine we can get is going to help. But people should not look to the vaccine as the solution right now," Chen said.

He believes a return to social distancing and mask-wearing is the only way to immediately bring down cases in Pierce County.

“We need to step back and rethink all the things that we used to be much better at doing,” Chen continued.

Pulling Johnson & Johnson vaccines is also complicating vaccine distribution, but the health department said it’s not a large percentage of the vaccines they distribute. The biggest test starts April 15, when vaccine eligibility opens to all adults.

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