Covid vaccine supply remains problematic

Hopes high for more clinics

The havoc wreaked by snow and ice storms across the Midwest have slowed the supply of COVID-19 vaccine to Washington state as a whole yet Jefferson Healthcare has announced it expects another batch of first-dose vaccine this week.

“This news is incredible for our community because the vaccine supply in our state remains very tight,” the hospital said on its website at jeffersonhealthcare.org.

Beginning today, the state is changing the Pfizer dose quantity from 975 to 1,170, according to the hospital’s website.

Vaccinations appointments for Jefferson Healthcare are being made from the hospital’s notification list, and those 65 and older who have not signed up are encouraged to do so at https://jeffersonhealthcare.org/ covid-19-vaccine.

Clallam County’s supply was in doubt as of Friday, although clinics planned in Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks went off as planned. No additional information was available on Sunday.

Jefferson County had one additional case reported on Friday but none on Saturday or Sunday, so far as Locke knew, he said Sunday. That means the county stays steady at 331 cases overall since the pandemic began.

Clallam County’s case count rose from 988 to 990, according to data on the Clallam County health department website.

Jefferson County Public Health hopes to have enough vaccine to augment Jefferson Healthcare’s efforts soon by conducting vaccination clinics in South County as well as Port Townsend, said Dr. Tom Locke, county health officer.

Locke said the hope is to do a site dress rehearsal at Chimacum High School, perhaps as early as the first week in March, with an eye toward also scheduling pop-up clinics at Quilcene and Port Townsend high schools.

To facilitate training of volunteers in Jefferson County, teams of people have visited the Port Angeles vaccination clinics to view how to conduct one smoothly, Locke said.

“Our model in Jefferson County is going to be almost entirely volunteer-driven,” he said.

Experienced nurses numbering between 15 and 20 will perform the vaccinations while teams drawn from 65 to 70 other volunteers will organize the flow through the clinics.

“One of the most difficult things in theses events is the data entry,” Locke said.

A great deal of mandatory reporting must be done within 24 hours.

Locke is hopeful that his county can take advantage of new software recently released by the state that allows inputting of data at the event, he said.

He also was pleased that Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Friday a bill allocating more than $2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding.

The vaccination clinics “have all been very costly to the agencies running them,” he said.

Under the bill, $618 million will go toward vaccine administration, contact tracing and testing.

Also included is $714 million to schools, $365 million will go toward rental assistance to help renters and landlords affected by the pandemic, $240 million to small business assistance grant, $70 million to assist undocumented immigrants impacted by the pandemic who do not qualify for federal or state assistance, $50 million for grants to childcare businesses and $26 million for food assistance.

Locke expects that the state will move to begin vaccination the next tier — essential workers, which includes teachers, grocery store clerks and police — in mid- or late March.

Online registration for vaccination clinics at the Port Angeles High School on Friday and Saturday will reopen at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Go to http://vaccine.clallam.net/register to register. Those who must schedule by phone can call 360-417-2430, but online is more efficient, volunteers say.

Sequim vaccination events are set for this week for Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Carrie Blake Community Park. For Sequim-area appointments or questions, call 360-683-3447.

A vaccination clinic is set in Joyce on Wednesday. It will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crescent School gym, 50350 state Highway 112. The clinic is for Joyce residents 65 or older. To register, call 360-417-2430.

The Joyce clinic put on by the Clallam County Health Department is supported by the Joyce Fire District, Joyce Emergency Planning and the Community Emergency Response Team.

Forks Community Hospital does not have clinics set there for this coming weekend.

The Veteran Affairs Port Angeles Clinic is offering vaccinations to veterans who are health care eligible on a limited basis by calling 206-716-5716.

Limited vaccinations also are offered at some local pharmacies such as Safeway, Costco and QFC. Locations, availability and how to register can be found at https://tinyurl.com/Vaccine Locations.

For more information about Clallam County, see the Olympic Medical Center website at olympicmedical.org.

For more statewide, see the state Department of Health website at doh.wa.gov.

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