Gov. Jay Inslee updates priorities list for vaccinations

Restaurant workers on the North Olympic Peninsula soon will be eligible for vaccinations, after Gov. Jay Inslee announced changes to the state’s priorities Thursday.

Restaurant, construction and manufacturing workers, people over the age of 60 and people with comorbidities will be eligible for vaccinations beginning March 31, Inslee said.

Currently, the state is vaccinating those in the 1B2 category, which includes critical workers in congregate settings such as grocery stores, food banks, agriculture, courts, jails and corrections, as well as first responders not vaccinated under 1A, and people older than 16 who are pregnant or who have disabilities that put them at high risk for COVID-19 complications. Those who were eligible under prior tiers remain eligible for shots.

The disability criteria is broad, and includes people with intellectual disabilities such as Down Syndrome or sensory disabilities such as deafness or blindness and physical disabilities, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

“It’s a pretty broad definition and we want to err on the side of inclusivity and lowering barriers to access to care,” she said. “So, if you feel like you have a disability that puts you at high risk for COVID-19, I would say it’s OK to click that box and schedule.

“We specifically wanted to reach out to anyone in the deaf community or anyone who is blind.”

Clallam residents who are unsure about their eligibility, can’t make an appointment online or have no way to attend a vaccination clinic are encouraged to call the Clallam Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 360-417-2430.

Jefferson County is relying on the state’s Phase Finder tool at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-PhaseFinderTool to determine eligibility, due to the broad nature of the priorities, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

“This is becoming more and more difficult when you try to make all these distinctions in terms of eligibility,” Locke said.

“Whereas you can sort of justify that on a conceptual basis if you’re in Olympia, on an implementation basis, it’s sort of maddening … it’s asking us to determine what disabilities increase a person’s risk of COVID complications.

“We’re really being asked to make distinctions and what we’re trying to do at a local level is vaccinate as many people as possible as rapidly as we can,” Locke added. “We can’t really do detailed investigations of every single person who wants a vaccination.

“What we would like to do is get them appointments and vaccinate them.”

Locke encourages people who need help determining eligibility or who have questions to call the Emergency Management Department at 360-344-9791.

Clallam County has a waitlist for residents who want a vaccine and aren’t eligible under the current phases to fill any vaccination appointments for people who don’t show up, since the vaccine must be used within six hours of the vial being opened, Berry said.

That list is at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-ClallamWaitlist. Signing up for the list does not guarantee getting a shot and the list is prioritized by age and risk as well, Berry said.

Jefferson County has not needed to set up a public sign-up link as of Thursday, officials said.

The Jamestown S’Klallam’s Sequim clinic, which includes 1B2 and those 50 and older, has appointments available at http://vaccine.clallam.net/register. Tribes are able to provide vaccinations to those 50 or older despite the state guidelines, something counties can’t do.

Jefferson County’s Chimacum High School Clinic on Sunday has appointments available for Jefferson residents who are eligible. Appointments can be made online at bit.ly/jeffcovax or by calling 360-344-9791.

Clallam County’s Port Angeles High School clinic this Saturday and Sunday has appointments available at http://vaccine.clallam.net/register or by phone at 360-417-2430.

Appointments for Jefferson Healthcare’s clinic can be made at https://jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine and people are asked to fill out the Phase Finder tool, but it’s not required to bring the printed sheet, said Amy Yaley, hospital spokesperson.

Those using the Chimacum clinic are asked to fill out the state’s Phase Finder tool, print the eligibility sheet and bring it with them to their vaccination appointment. Clallam County doesn’t require that.

Clallam County confirmed one new case Thursday, while Jefferson County added three new cases.

Clallam County has confirmed 33 cases of COVID-19 so far this month, about 3.19 percent of the 1,034 cases confirmed during the past year, according to county data. Jefferson County has confirmed five cases this month, about 1.47 percent of the 341 cases confirmed in the past year, according to county Public Health data.

Ten COVID-19 cases were active as of Thursday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had five active cases.

Jefferson County is in the state’s low-risk category with a case rate of 3.13 per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Saturday, while Clallam County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 38 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior to Thursday.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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