Today Island Hospital (IH) received notification that it would receive 800 Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines next week from the State of Washington. After four weeks of no vaccines allocated to the hospital, staff members are eager to get back to the critical work of vaccinating the community. Island Hospital anticipates opening their appointment scheduling on Monday, March 8.

The J&J vaccine is delivered in a single dose. Although the J&J vaccine’s clinical trials show lower effectiveness than Pfizer and Moderna, it’s important to know that all three vaccines are exceptionally effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms. According to clinical trials data, all of the authorized vaccines are 100% effective at preventing hospitalization and death related to COVID-19.  Island Hospital along with the The Washington State Hospital Association is strongly endorsing the “the best vaccine is the first vaccine you are offered” message.

“Comparing the J&J vaccine to the Pfizer or Moderna is like comparing apples to oranges. The J&J vaccine was studied after several viral variants emerged, while all three trials where testing for different outcomes based on the manufacturer’s requirements,” said Keith Kuboske, PharmD, DPH, MBA, MHA, MS, System Director of Pharmacy Services at Island Hospital.

The news of receiving approval for vaccines next week came as a relief to staff after Island Hospital leadership has been advocating for vaccine allocation for the last several weeks. Chief Executive Officer, Charles Hall and Chief Operating Officer, Elise Cutter have pleaded with local and state representatives, as well as the governor’s office, to understand why Island Hospital had been overlooked.

“After four weeks of no allotments, we are very eager to receive vaccines for our community. We’d like to thank Councilmen Young and the entire Anacortes City Council, Mayor Gere, Representatives Larsen, Lekanoff, and Ramel and Senators Murray and Cantwell, and all those who listened to our concerns and helped ensure Island Hospital would not continue to be left out of the vaccine distribution equation,” said Island Hospital CEO, Charles Hall, MSN, MBA.

With the news of teachers and licensed childcare providers eligible for the vaccine this week, Elise Cutter, COO and Emergency Operations Commander, quickly put a number of initiatives into place, offering appointments next Wednesday to Anacortes School District staff.

“We felt it was important to focus on our teachers this week given the governor’s announcement to move teachers into Phase 1B1,” said Cutter. “We will also be calling those individuals from our scheduling assistance list to ensure they are offered appointments this week.”

Appointments will be set aside for Anacortes School District staff on Wednesday, March 10. The one-dose J&J vaccine will be extremely helpful to busy teachers and staff who may not be able to schedule a second dose during their work week.

Cutter has also been spearheading an equitable vaccine distribution plan with the hospital. This work includes identifying patients of color, low-income or disability to proactively reach out to schedule a vaccine appointment. Island Hospital is mining their patient database to identify those most vulnerable in the 1B1 category. In addition, the hospital has been managing a scheduling assistance line for those who are eligible to receive a vaccine, but unable to schedule online.

Island Hospital anticipates opening scheduling on Monday, March 8 for COVID-19 vaccine appointments next week. The hospital’s website will be updated Monday with scheduling information:

There are two ways to schedule:

  • ONLINE at
  • SCHEDULING ASSISTANCE MESSAGE LINE: When the online appointments open, the vaccine message line will also reopen for community members needing assistance with scheduling. Online scheduling is preferred; however, those who cannot access the internet or do not have the means to schedule online, may leave their name and phone number at 360-299-1367. This message line is checked by staff and volunteers who are returning calls in the order they were received. IH is requesting that community members please leave this line open for those who truly need assistance with scheduling.

Details on Phase 1A and 1B1 Eligibility:

  • Healthcare workers and first responders at high risk for COVID-19
  • Anyone who lives or works in a long-term care setting
  • Anyone over the age of 65
  • Anyone 50 or over living in a multi-generational household
  • Teachers and staff for pre-K and K-12 schools, and workers in childcare/daycare settings.

Patients will be asked to use the Find Your Phase website ( to ensure they meet the 1A or 1B1 requirements. In addition, Island Hospital is only able to vaccinate established patients or residents in the immediate service area, which includes those living on Fidalgo Island, Guemes Island, Sinclair Island and in La Conner.

Island Hospital encourages community members to receive whichever vaccine is available, as soon as possible. The Washington State Department of Health’s website lists convenient vaccine locations:

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Published on March 5, 2021