Island County opioid outreach team distributing COVID vaccines

The team has been highly successful despite challenges unique to their target population.

Island County Human Services has made significant headway in vaccinating people with substance use disorders against COVID-19.

Betsy Griffith, behavioral health supervisor, announced in a county Board of Health meeting May 18 that the opioid outreach team fully vaccinated 16 of the 86 individuals their group has had contact with as of April.

This may not sound like very many, Griffith said, but considering the challenges unique to people with substance use disorders that number represents a huge success.

“Our population is a little less likely to seek out traditional medical services, due to a variety of reasons,” Griffith told the Whidbey News-Times.

Many people with substance use disorders also experience homelessness, making them difficult to contact. Griffith said many members of this population were also nervous about receiving the vaccine and didn’t feel comfortable going to clinics or hospitals.

The outreach team employs an registered nurse qualified to administer vaccines so it was able to bring the shots to more familiar locations.

Working out of syringe exchange locations and SPiN Cafe, a food and resource center for the homeless, the outreach team got vaccines in the arms of 16 people with substance use disorders.

In addition to assisting in vaccination efforts, Griffith said in her update to the Board of Health that the outreach team distributed warm clothing to many people experiencing homelessness. She explained that many public places where people can warm up weren’t accessible during COVID-19 shutdowns.

The team also focused on distributing Narcan, a medicine used to treat opioid overdose.

More in News

Suspicious botanist, invisible guests, satanic voicemail reported | Island Scanner

The following reports were compiled from calls made to the Island County… Continue reading

Bowman Bay diver found

The Skagit County Sheriff’s Office has recovered the body of a 67-year-old… Continue reading

Photo by Heather Mayhugh
Stuart Peeples demonstrates how to enter Heather Mayhugh's wheelchair van. In recent months, while navigating the new Mukilteo ferry terminal, Mayhugh has struggled to unload her clients who need access to the restroom.
ADA concerns cited about new ferry terminal in Mukilteo

Advocates feel not enough thought went into improving the new terminal’s accessibility problems.

Bystanders perform CPR on grocery store shopper

Two men helped a fellow grocery shopper at Saar’s last week by performing CPR after he collapsed.

Oak Harbor business owner killed in crash

The owner of an Oak Harbor brewing company was killed in a motorcycle accident in Yakima County.

No serious injuries reported in Bayview Road accident

The drivers of two vehicles that collided in South Whidbey Saturday were not seriously injured.

Photo by Rebecca Powers
Apartment fire injures one, displaces nine

Nine people were displaced after a fire swept through an apartment building… Continue reading

Photo by Sara Hogarth
Crews put out grass fire

A possible mishap with a lawn mower sparked a half-acre fire on Green Valley Road on Friday morning.

Guns found buried under shed, in flower pot | Island Scanner

Sunday, June 27 At 9 a.m., an Eastpoint Drive resident reported that… Continue reading

Most Read