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Washington pharmacies prepare for rush of COVID-19 vaccine booster seekers

Recent approval by the FDA makes all adults eligible to receive a supplemental dose.

The rush is on for COVID-19 vaccine boosters, just days after the Food and Drug Administration signed off on the supplemental doses late last week. 

The agency’s approval allows people across western Washington to hunt for their shot in the arm. While some may have to travel to find their additional dose, many local pharmacies are ready to get people vaccinated.

One pharmacy that is distributing the COVID-19 vaccine is Ostroms Drug and Gifts, a fixture in Kenmore since 1961. Though prescriptions have been their bread and butter for the last 60 years, their current focus is making the vaccine available to those who want it.

“We’re doing a lot of immunizations, currently,” said Matt Binder, a pharmacist at Ostroms. “Probably about 1,200 COVID shots in the last month, including about 75 on Saturday.”

Like many other businesses, Ostroms uses an appointment system that books out every 15 minutes. They take walk-ins when they can.

Binder said their ability to assist walk-in requests is limited due to the small space designated for their observation area.

“When we are able to take walk-ins, we usually advise them that it’s going to be 45 to 60 minutes to get everything right and ready.” 

When the vaccine was rolled out in April, availability was initially limited, forcing many to drive to other cities for their doses.

“As I’m giving people these booster shots, I’m looking at their cards and seeing a lot of the Monroe Fairgrounds or maybe [Lumen Field],” Binder said. “Some people had to really go out of their way to squeeze in anywhere, so it’s definitely a better situation these days. Every drug store such as ours is able to help people out in their own neighborhood.” 

However, in an email to KING 5, Public Health - Seattle and King County said “some patients may encounter wait times for getting a booster appointment due to early demand outpacing the number of vaccinators and/or clinic space at vaccine sites and clinics.”

Many people will be traveling for the holidays, which is why Binder says now is a great time to get vaccinated. 

“The holiday season is coming again and last year we had a pretty bad spike that really started with these holidays and moved into the season," Binder said. "These vaccines are the way to get out of this and move on to better days ahead.”