Three more Clallam County residents have died from COVID-19, raising the total number of deaths in the county to 56 and the total on the North Olympic Peninsula to 72 since the pandemic began.
Two were of women in their 90s who were residents at a long-term care facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.
One of them was fully vaccinated and the other woman’s vaccination status was under investigation Tuesday, Berry said.
The third was a woman in her 40s who was unvaccinated and was not associated with a long-term care facility, Berry said.
“Unfortunately, that is the trend we’re seeing,” Berry said. “For people who are very elderly and very ill, they’re often unable to fully respond to vaccines and so we do unfortunately see deaths in that population.
“But when we see people dying who are otherwise healthy and young — like this woman in her 40s — they’re always unvaccinated. The vaccine really makes all the difference in really preventing those kinds of particularly tragic deaths in young people.”
No new deaths were reported Tuesday in Jefferson County, which has confirmed 16 deaths since the pandemic began.
Three long-term care facilities on the Peninsula, down from four earlier this month, were experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks on Tuesday; all are in Clallam County.
The largest one has had 19 total cases confirmed. The other two have had six and seven cases confirmed, and both are expected to be over by the end of this week, as long as no new cases are found, since it would be more than two weeks without a new case, Berry said.
Clallam County added 28 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, raising its total number to 4,683 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.
Clallam County recorded a case rate of 405 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Tuesday, county data said.
On Tuesday, Jefferson County added nine new cases of COVID-19, raising its total number to 1,080 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.
Jefferson County’s case rate, recorded weekly, was reported at 156.74 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Oct. 13, according to county health data.
Berry continues to urge all residents 12 and older to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible.
Last week, the federal Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) advisory board approved Moderna’s vaccine for boosters for high-risk people such as those ages 65 and older. Berry expects the boosters for that vaccine will be fully approved by the end of this week.
Clallam residents who need a booster dose can preregister for a vaccination event Saturday at Port Angeles High School. However, if the vaccine is not approved for a booster dose by then, the event will be canceled, Berry said.
Clallam residents can sign up for the clinic at clallam.net/Coronavirus.
Jefferson County personnel also are planning for Moderna vaccination events. However, Pfizer was more commonly used in the county earlier in the pandemic response, so officials have a booster clinic using Pfizer’s vaccine scheduled for Saturday at Quilcene School District.
Jefferson residents can sign up for the Quilcene clinic at co.jefferson.wa.us/1429/COVID-19.
People can receive boosters for the vaccine they originally received. The FDA is evaluating a potential mix of vaccines and will consider approving the practice by the beginning of November.
The FDA is also evaluating the use of Pfizer’s for children 5-11 and is likely to approve the expanded use of the vaccine in the first week of November.
Officials in both counties are preparing to host mass vaccination clinics for that age group if the vaccine approval is expanded, Berry said.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]