Gerry Kress of Port Townsend pedaled his bike to Jefferson Healthcare’s drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site Tuesday morning, where vaccinator Viviann Kuehl of Quilcene briefed him on the procedure. Kress was among 375 people scheduled for first doses of the Pfizer vaccine. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Gerry Kress of Port Townsend pedaled his bike to Jefferson Healthcare’s drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site Tuesday morning, where vaccinator Viviann Kuehl of Quilcene briefed him on the procedure. Kress was among 375 people scheduled for first doses of the Pfizer vaccine. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Nearly one-third have had first COVID-19 vaccine shot in Peninsula counties

Clallam seeking state approval for next eligible group

More than 2 million doses of vaccine against COVID-19 have been administered statewide since mid-December, and the North Olympic Peninsula is leading the state in the percentage of residents vaccinated with at least one dose.

“I am so grateful for the tireless efforts of our partners on the ground, including local health jurisdictions, community health centers, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and so many others,” state Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah said Monday.

“The successes we are seeing are a testament to their hard work over the past few months.”

Clallam County had vaccinated 31.45 percent with at least one dose, while Jefferson County had given at least the first does of vaccine to 32.78 percent of the population as of Friday, according to state figures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines Monday saying that fully vaccinated people — those who have had two doses with the last one at least two weeks ago — can gather in small groups indoors without face masks, but it added that face masks should continue to be worn, even by the fully vaccinated, with people who are not vaccinated or while in public.

Both counties will be ready to move forward into the 1B2 phase of vaccinations by March 22.

Clallam County officials are awaiting word on possibly beginning those vaccinations early, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

The state is working on Phase 3 of its “Roadmap to Recovery” economic reopening and specifics are not known yet, said Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

Locke expects to see more large-scale openings beginning in April and May, he said.

“That’s when I expect the big reopening — if we’re not dealing with a fourth wave of U.K. variant,” Locke said.

“The improving weather and the rising levels of vaccination will allow more people to get into restaurants, more people can interact in social settings without setting off another outbreak,” he added.

Jefferson Healthcare announced that residents now can make appointments for first-dose vaccinations directly through its website, https://jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.

Both Jefferson and Clallam counties are continuing vaccinations in the state’s 1B1 category, which includes those 65 and older, 50 and older in multi-generational households, Pre-K through 12th-grade school workers, childcare workers and any 1A workers who didn’t receive the vaccine earlier.

Those who register for the Jefferson Healthcare clinic as part of the demographics not decided solely by age are asked to fill out the state’s vaccine phase finder at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-PhaseFinderTool and print their eligibility notices.

Clallam County does not require that, Berry said.

Appointments for the Port Angeles High School vaccination clinic this Saturday opens at 9 a.m. today at http://vaccine.clallam.net/register. Those who prefer to schedule by phone can call 360-417-2430.

Sequim appointments for Saturday also can be made at the same website.

While disease transmission has dropped in both counties, health officers urge residents to continue to wear face masks, practice social distancing, avoid indoor gatherings, limit travel and practice good hand hygiene to avoid a new spike in cases.

“We’ve seen that before, and I am concerned by the number of folks who are contacting my office to try to talk about spring break plans to travel out of state,” Berry said. “That makes me nervous.

“I really want to encourage folks when it comes to spring break, try to stay within this state and preferably within the Olympic Peninsula as much as you can. We have done so well out here, it would be a shame to introduce a lot of COVID because of travel.”

Locke agreed with Berry, elaborating that variants such as the UK strain pose a risk for a fourth wave of infections.

“This is not a time to let up on masking or distancing or any of the other things unless you’re fully vaccinated — and then the rules change,” Locke said.

Clallam County confirmed six new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday among a single family, Berry said.

Jefferson County held steady with no new cases.

Clallam County’s test positivity — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 1.6 percent from Feb. 20 to March 6, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County’s test positivity was zero percent for March 1-7.

Clallam County has confirmed 17 cases of COVID-19 so far this month, about 1.77 percent of the 1,018 cases confirmed during the past year, according to Clallam County data.

Jefferson County has not reported a case this month but has 336 in the past year, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

Thirteen COVID-19 cases were active as of Tuesday in Clallam County. Jefferson County has no active cases.

Jefferson County is in the state’s low-risk category with a case rate of 15.67 per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

Clallam County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 29 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as to Tuesday.

________

Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at zjablonski@peninsuladailynews.com.

Registered nurses Kelly Bower and Dmitriy Lisenkoff prepare COVID-19 vaccination doses at the Jamestown Family Health Clinic drive-thru clinic in Sequim on March 4. (Michael Dashiell /Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Registered nurses Kelly Bower and Dmitriy Lisenkoff prepare COVID-19 vaccination doses at the Jamestown Family Health Clinic drive-thru clinic in Sequim on March 4. (Michael Dashiell /Olympic Peninsula News Group)

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