SEQUIM — Avamere Olympic Rehabilitation of Sequim has begun vaccinating its residents and staff members, in what the Kim Gray, director of marketing and admissions, said was a first among skilled nursing facilities on the Olympic Peninsula.
Walgreens staffers were on hand last Tuesday to distribute up to 150 vaccinations at the facility that provides nursing, rehabilitation, long-term care and respite care.
Gray said about 55 residents (72 percent) initially signed up to receive the vaccine, along with 65 staff members, for 110 total.
Those numbers climbed to more than 125 by late Tuesday morning, said Julie Martin, Avamere’s director of nursing.
“This is working really well,” said Cindy Crawford, infection preventionist at Avamere.
Some of those who declined to get the vaccine are short-term residents who would not still be at the facility to get the vaccine’s second shot slated for Jan. 26 and didn’t want to return for the second dose, staff said.
Those who receive the vaccine go through a pre-screening and screening process; some who have medical conditions such as allergies to ingredients in the vaccine or seizure issues preclude them from receiving a dose, Crawford said.
Those who receive the vaccination are then monitored by medical personnel for at least 15 minutes, and the facility has nursing staff and epinephrine shots available for anyone feeling adverse reactions, she said.
Getting a vaccine shot is not mandatory, staff said.
Nursing home administrator Heather Jeffers said Avamare tests its approximate 130 staff members for COVID-19 twice a week.
Almost 70,000 people in Washington state had received a vaccine by Dec. 31, according to the state Department of Health.
Vaccines are being distributed across the state to individuals in the Tier 1 category that includes high-risk workers in health care settings; high-risk first responders; and residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other community-based settings where most individuals older than 65 are receiving care, supervision or assistance, according to state officials.
Clallam County emergency officials noted that immediate vaccine distributions also will go to the jail, where an outbreak previously has been reported, and respiratory clinics.
Under the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program, Walgreens and CVS have several onsite clinics planned specifically for long-term care facilities in the next couple of weeks, state officials noted.
The vaccinations will help bring overall COVID-19 rates down, but facilities such as Avamere will await a change in state guidelines before they reopen to visitors. The facility has been closed to residents and staff only since Feb. 29.
“The facility will still remain closed to visitors until the guidelines change on reopening,” Gray said.
For more information about Washington state’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines — including the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, plans for vaccine distribution and more — see www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/Vaccine.
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].