PORT ANGELES — Drive-through vaccination clinics in Sequim and Forks tried residents’ patience as they waited in long lines for hours but yet didn’t always get the COVID-19 shot.
Clinics were conducted in Sequim Thursday and Saturday with check-in at the Trinity United Methodist Church at 100 S. Blake Ave, and are planned also for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this coming Thursday and Saturday.
In Forks, clinics were Friday and Saturday at the branch campus of Peninsula College at 481 S. Forks Ave.
Port Angeles’ clinics began this weekend, but were by appointment only, as Jefferson County’s clinics will be this week.
In Sequim, COVID-19 vaccine efforts could turn out to include a camping element.
Interest in the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s vaccination clinics was massive, with about 500 vaccines performed and about 1,500 residents turned away Thursday, according to Brent Simcosky, the tribe’s health director.
The first person to receive a vaccine at the clinic had camped out the night before, Simcosky said.
When that person received the vaccination shot “people were honking their horns and cheering,” he said.
The first clinic’s overwhelming turnout had some residents considering camping out to get in line for for upcoming vaccine clinic dates.
Dan Orr, Fire District 3 assistant chief, said he saw about 90 vehicles lined up by the time he arrived at 6 a.m.
Residents who reported getting in line for vaccinations by 8 a.m. Thursday were turned away, with the line to get registered crawling back to the U.S. Highway 101/Simdars Road exit.
“If you didn’t get into the Jamestown line (on Thursday) … there will be more events coming soon,” Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer, has said.
In Forks, vehicles began lining up at about 7 a.m. for the 10 a.m. clinic. They filled the turn lane on Forks Avenue and overflowed into the Forks High School vocational shop parking lot as well as into the Forks Transit Center.
City Attorney Rod Fleck directed traffic with a Star Wars light saber.
Others helping out were Forks Community Hospital administrators, Fire Chief Bill Paul, Forks Police Chief Mike Rowley, Emergency Medical Technician Tim Wade and Quillayute Valley Superintendent Diana Reaume volunteered the entire day and were back Saturday. Members of Coast Guard Sation Quillayute River also show up to help.
On Friday 260 vaccinations were given. Saturday things were moving smoother with 80 vaccines given by 11 a.m. They had 300 doses available for Saturday.
Berry said that by the end of Saturday, about 7,000 people would have received vaccinations for COVID-19.
That figure includes health care workers and first responders included in the initial round of vaccinations that began in December and now high-risk people over 70 (and some caregivers over 50 in the Forks area) beginning last week.
Clallam County initially used Pfizer vaccine but now vaccinations of residents is with the Moderna vaccine.
Clallam County reported seven new cases Friday and three more Saturday. Berry said the county is no longer seeing an uptick of cases from New Year’s Eve gatherings.
Clallam County now has 864 confirmed cases with an infection rate of 154 per 100,000 over the past two weeks and 85 active cases in the county. One person is currently in the hospital with COVID-19.
In Jefferson County, appointments can be made online at https://jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine/ or by calling 360-344-9791.
Jefferson County reported seven new cases Friday and none Saturday for 269 total since March. Jefferson has 20 active cases in isolation with an infection rate of 125.39 per 100,000 over the past two weeks.
Vaccinations in Clallam County are for people 70 and older. Jefferson County went with 85 and older because they are the highest risk group and vaccine supply is limited, according to Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.
Both Berry and Locke think that despite the news that the promised federal reserve of vaccine doses ready to be sent out to the states doesn’t exist, more c doses should arrive by mid-February.
“We don’t have a lot of cushion, but it’s not an emergency,” Berry said.
Locke said Moderna and Pfizer are ramping up their vaccines and that vaccines from other manufacturers are on the way.
Now is not the time for people to hold parties or otherwise drop their guard.
”If we take the eye off the ball and start gathering too soon, we will lose all the progress we have made,” Berry said. “It would be a terrible waste to let the virus get out of control now.”
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be reached at [email protected]