Peninsula counties prepare for more vaccination clinics

Clallam would like to expand groups

While new COVID-19 cases remained few on the North Olympic Peninsula on Monday, county health officials continue to plan for future vaccination phases and events.

Both counties have recently seen an uptick in more 1A members making appointments after they initially declined to be vaccinated, local health officers said.

“We’ve seen folks who didn’t get vaccinated in the first round who have now seen many of their friends get vaccinated, feel more comfortable that the vaccine is safe,” said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

Berry said Clallam County could be ready to expand into the state’s 1B2 phase of vaccinations as early as next week.

That would include critical workers older than 50. However, the state released guidance that no county will move to the next phase until the rest of the state is ready.

Berry and Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County’s health officer, had differing opinions on the state’s plan to move forward simultaneously.

Berry said it could hinder the vaccination efforts in Clallam if the state takes too long to move forward.

“That’s a frustration,” she said. “We anticipate, given the rate that the rest of the state has been vaccinating, that we likely will move forward in B2 in the end of March rather than the beginning.

“If we get to the point that we don’t have anyone left in 1A and B1 to vaccinate, that would force us to actually stop vaccinating in our community, and that is something we don’t want to do. It’s a waste of our infrastructure, and it seems like a silly pause in the good forward momentum we have going on.”

Locke, who anticipated Jefferson County will be working on the 65-and-older population for another two to three weeks, said it makes sense the state is choosing to move forward simultaneously and that, although there was a pause in first-dose deliveries in Jefferson, the Peninsula had a small head start on vaccinations compared with other parts of the state.

“I think that makes sense, and the reason I think that is because the state has not even allocated the vaccine around the state,” he said. “They keep promising to come up with a plan, and we want it to be fair.

“We’re all in this together as a state, and eventually everyone who wants to get vaccinated will get vaccinated. We don’t want this to be competitive. If there are other counties who have not got as much vaccine and need to catch up, so be it,” he continued.

“I especially feel that is the case we’re vaccinating now, which is the elderly, because they have the highest risk of complications. So, it’s very important that we get all of the senior citizens who want to get vaccinated before we move on to younger populations.”

As of Saturday, Jefferson County had given 9,521 vaccination doses, while Clallam County had given 26,597 doses, according to the state’s dashboard.

The state is still vaccinating Phase 1A and 1B1 members, including healthcare workers, first responders, people 65 and older, and people 50 and older living in multi-generational households.

Jefferson Healthcare is making appointments for vaccinations through its “When is it my turn?” list, which people 65 and older can sign up for at https://jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.

Clallam County will open appointments on Wednesday at 9 a.m. for at the Port Angeles High School clinics this weekend for 1A members and those 65 and older at http://vaccine.clallam.net/register. Those who must schedule by phone can call 360-417-2430.

Clallam County’s test positivity — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 2.3 percent from Feb. 5 to Feb. 19, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County’s test positivity was 0.51 percent for Feb. 15-21.

So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed 46 cases of COVID-19, about 4.68 percent of the 982 cases confirmed since last March, according to Clallam County data.

Jefferson County has confirmed 27 cases of COVID-19, about 8.16 percent of the 331 it has confirmed since last March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

Eighteen COVID-19 cases were active as of Monday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had five active cases.

Both counties are in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 50 per 100,000 population during the past two weeks as of Monday in Clallam County and 28.21 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday in Jefferson County.

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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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