Health officers: Get vaccinated for your community

Fourth surge could be worse than expected, they say

We are so close, as a community, to getting free of COVID-19’s hold on us, Clallam County health officer Dr. Allison Berry said.

But the gains made in recent months could be quickly lost in a fourth surge, she added Friday.

The way to stop it, Berry and Jefferson County public health officer Dr. Tom Locke emphasize, is to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We have plenty of vaccine to move forward,” Berry said, adding Clallam expects shipments of 2,500 doses by the end of the month, and if those are used up, “we’re likely to get more.”

Across Washington state, Thursday is the first day of unrestricted vaccinations for anyone 16 or older. So the time is now to make an appointment, Berry said, even if it’s just for a first dose. For in-depth information about making appointments for vaccination clinics, see B1 in today’s edition.

Clallam County residents can make appointments for shots at sites in Sequim, Port Angeles and the West End; weekday and weekend clinics are planned, Berry said.

To schedule vaccinations in Clallam County, see http://www.clallam.net/coronavirus/vaccine.html.

In Jefferson County, see jeffersoncountypublichealth.org and click on COVID-19 updates.

In Jefferson County, Locke said, the shipments aren’t as large — 600 Moderna doses plus 100 Johnson & Johnson doses — but the county is adding sites this week.

Quilcene High School and Don’s Pharmacy in Port Townsend are among the places poised to take appointments; Jefferson Healthcare continues to offer inoculations, with information at jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine/.

Those needing help scheduling or canceling appointments can phone Jefferson County Emergency management at 360-344-9791.

If enough people are immunized, the new, highly contagious COVID variants will have nowhere to go, Locke said. That can mean eradication of the pandemic in the North Olympic Peninsula’s two counties.

On the other hand, if the variants outrun vaccinations, it could keep smoldering, sickening and killing more people, as the pandemic continues to do across the world.

It’s been a tough week for Clallam County, which saw outbreaks in restaurants, bars, a dental clinic and the Peninsula College women’s basketball team. The case count has risen to 1,123 as of Saturday, up from the 1,080 infection total of a week ago.

Restaurant and bar owners cooperated with investigators, who “are going to be able to completely contact-trace,” Berry said. She added that much of the spread at such establishments happens among employees, as they spend hours working right next to one another.

Such workers may be young and asymptomatic, but they can spread the virus to older friends and family.

In Jefferson County, the total case count has reached 358, with four new COVID infections diagnosed Friday and none reported Saturday. The new infections were found in people who were contacts of already-known cases, “which is really the pattern we’re seeing now,” Locke said.

“When you have a virus [variant] that’s twice as contagious, you’re going to see twice as many cases.”

When making a decision about the vaccine, Locke said, weigh the benefits and risks.

“The main benefit for you personally is that it dramatically reduces your chances of becoming severely ill, being hospitalized and dying,” he said.

At the same time, your shot benefits the people around you, some of whom could be more susceptible to fatal illness.

“Nothing is risk-free,” Locke added, but “this is one of the safest vaccines we’ve ever seen. We see allergic reactions,” in two to three people per 1 million vaccinated. The same happens with other vaccines including flu shots.

“That’s why we observe people for 15 minutes,” after their jab, so a possible reaction can be treated immediately, Locke said.

“We’re really concerned that a fourth wave could be a lot worse than people expected it to be,” he added.

With the highly transmissible strains of the virus circulating, “things you got away with last year may not protect you” this time around.

Berry added one more plea.

“Get vaccinated for your neighbors, your friends and your family,” she said.

________

Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or durbanidelapaz@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Port Angeles School Superintendent Marty Brewer, second from right, speaks with members of the Port Angeles Parents for Education, on Friday about the Port Angeles Paraeducation Association strike. Assistant Superintendent Michele Olsen stands at right. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)
District, PAPEA to pick up bargaining Sunday

Parent group presses officials for answers on strike

Instructor Josh Taylor, left, points out the workings of an electric vehicle on Wednesday at the Auto Technology Certification Program at Peninsula College. Nick Schommer, center, and Brian Selk get ready to do some testing on the electric auto’s parts from underneath the vehicle. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
College’s automotive technology program gets a reboot

Students can earn a certificate separate from two-year degree

Port Townsend transportation tax dollars to be put to work

Benefits district to raise $400,000 to $600,000 in first year

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
Retired teacher Nancy McCaleb speaks in support of striking paraeducators in the Port Angeles School District as Port Angeles Paraeducators Association President Rebecca Winters listens during a rally on Thursday at Shane Park.
About 130 rally in support of paras

District officials say funding is statewide problem

Mark Nichols.
Proposed changes to public defender caseloads could hurt rural counties

Annual limits starting in 2025 may create staffing issues

Fernando Cruz of Auburn, an employee of Specialized Pavement Marking in Pacific, cleans off a sign he used to paint a bicycle lane on Sims Way and Kearney Street, the site of the new roundabout. The workers needed at least two days of 47 degrees or above in order to paint the pedestrian crosswalks and other necessary markings. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
New bike lane in Port Townsend

Fernando Cruz of Auburn, an employee of Specialized Pavement Marking in Pacific,… Continue reading

Two-lane bypass to be installed Monday

Contractor crews working for the state Department of Transportation will… Continue reading

Twice daily bridge inspections start next week

Bridge preservation engineers from the state Department of Transportation will… Continue reading

Funding farm-to-school programs

In the 2021-2023 state budget, Washington set aside money specifically for the… Continue reading

Gus Griffin, 11, second from left, and classmates dig up weeds in one of Port Townsend’s three gardens on March 28. (Grace Deng/Washington State Standard)
Farm-to-school programs flourish in Washington

Demand from school districts outpacing state funding

Jefferson enacts 1-year moratorium on STRs

County wants to consider possible regulations for rentals