COVID-19 updates moving to weekly

First vaccine doses for young children expected later this week

Changes are coming to the way in which COVID-19 cases will be reported by the North Olympic Peninsula health departments.

The COVID-19 dashboards will be updated weekly rather than daily starting Monday, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

“We made the decision to transition to weekly updates for a couple of reasons,” Berry said Tuesday.

“We have been talking about this transition to the next phase of virus mitigation, and when we look at that, we are trying to figure out how to make our response a bit more sustainable, while still providing good service to the public.”

The purpose of the updates is to provide data to help people understand their own risks and make informed decisions. At this point, a weekly update will provide sufficient information since little change is seen from day to day, Berry said.

The other reason is to free staff to return to their usual public health roles and support the immunization effort.

Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved for children from 6 months to 5 years old by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

The first doses are expected to arrive on the Peninsula later this week.

While this age group is one of the least likely to develop severe disease from COVID-19, Berry and other health care providers across the state strongly encourage parents to get their little ones vaccinated, especially in areas with high case rates, such as Clallam and Jefferson counties.

“Severe outcomes are still possible for this age group, despite cases being less common. Over 400 children have died from COVID-19 in this age group across the country.

Berry said the most common side effect of the vaccine for children is a sore arm at the site of injection and high fever. She recommended that parents have pediatric Tylenol on hand.

On Tuesday, Jefferson County reported a total of 4,567 cases since the pandemic began with a present case rate of 979 per 100,000 population, an increase from earlier this month.

Berry attributed the higher case rate to end-of-the-school-year festivities being moved inside due to wet weather.

Case rates are a reflection of cases reported during a two-week period. They are computed using a formula based on 100,000 population even for counties that do not have 100,000 people living in them.

One Jefferson County resident was hospitalized Tuesday with COVID-19; no new deaths from the virus have been reported.

Clallam County has reported a total of 13,393 cases since the pandemic began, with a case rate of 657 per 100,000 population. One resident was hospitalized as of Tuesday with the virus.

Clallam County reported three new COVID-19 deaths, bringing its total from the virus since the pandemic began to 116.

Two of the deaths were people who were both vaccinated and boosted but who had severe underlying health issues: A woman in her 40s and a man in his 80s. He was in hospice care.

The most recent was an unvaccinated man in his 70s.

Both counties remain in the high-risk category, in which health officials recommend masking indoors, even for those who are vaccinated.

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached by email at [email protected]

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