Jefferson Healthcare to resume first doses

Appointments being made from notification list

PORT TOWNSEND — After more than a month, Jefferson Healthcare will receive a shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for first doses.

The hospital has been making appointments through its notification signups for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as staff works through a waiting list of more than 7,000 residents, Amy Yaley, Jefferson Healthcare spokesperson, said on Monday.

Hospital officials hope to receive the shipment today, and it will be for one unit of 975 doses, Yaley said.

Jefferson Healthcare has had a signup list running for residents 65 and older who want to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and hospital staff is prioritizing the “oldest and frailest” who signed up, working from the oldest to the youngest, Yaley said.

That means if a 65-year-old resident signed up first but a 90-year-old signs up later, the older resident would be placed at the top of the rotating list, Yaley said.

The process has hospital staff contacting residents individually to schedule the appointments, rather than opening time slots on a first-come, first-served basis. That process is more labor intensive for staff, but it allows the appointments to be made more equitably for people most at-risk of complications due to COVID-19, Yaley said.

The youngest appointment made as of Monday morning was for a 74-year-old resident, Yaley said.

While the hospital has only reached that age so far, those 65 and older who have not signed up and want the vaccine at Jefferson Healthcare can sign up at https://jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine for notification, Yaley said.

On Monday, Clallam County confirmed 10 new cases of COVID-19, while Jefferson County reported no new cases, according to county public health data.

The new cases in Clallam County are primarily contacts of previously confirmed cases, and, as of Monday, are believed to be scattered over a few days and were reported at once due to testing delays, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

While the county, state and nation are seeing a downward trend in new COVID-19 cases, it’s too soon to relax on prevention measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and good hand hygiene, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

“The sobering thing is, it’s a downward trend from an all-time high,” Locke said. “We’re not out of danger from [a fourth wave].

“We could see it take off again if we don’t do things right, if we don’t keep up our guard as we roll out the vaccine.”

Vaccine amounts continue to be limited at the federal level, but Locke hopes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that the Food and Drug Administration is currently evaluating for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) will help with supply.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine only requires a single dose and is easier to store and handle, Locke said.

The FDA’s advisory committee of vaccination and epidemiology experts is set to meet Feb. 26 to decide on recommending the vaccine for an EUA or not, according to the FDA’s website.

If it receives approval from the committee, the FDA likely would move quickly. It approved Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines within 36 hours of the committee’s vote.

Clallam County’s test positivity — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 2.4 percent from Jan. 26 to Feb. 9, Berry said.

Jefferson County’s test positivity was 3.42 percent for Feb. 1-7.

So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed 39 cases of COVID-19, which is 4 percent of the 975 cases confirmed since last March, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County has confirmed 24 cases of COVID-19, about 7.32 percent of the 328 it has confirmed since last March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

Twenty-seven COVID-19 cases were active as of Monday in Clallam County.

Jefferson County had 18 active cases.

Clallam County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 62 per 100,000 population during the past two weeks as of Monday.

The case rate in Jefferson County was 128.53 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Feb. 6, in the state’s high-risk category. However, that number is expected to drop when it is recalculated today, Locke said.

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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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