Travel major source of new infections on Peninsula

Pop-up vaccination clinics scheduled

Travel continues to be a source of new cases of COVID-19 on the North Olympic Peninsula, and local health officers continue to urge residents to get vaccinated before taking trips.

Local transmission rates in Clallam and Jefferson counties are declining. But case rates remain high in other parts of the state, posing a risk of importing cases when unvaccinated people return from the higher-risk areas, officials said.

Clallam County confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, both connected to out-of-county travel, according to Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

Jefferson County held steady with no new cases, according to county public health data.

While places in Washington state and the U.S. continue to have high case rates, international travel also poses a higher risk, as many countries still have low numbers of vaccinated people, Berry said.

“If you’re traveling to other countries, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of people there are unvaccinated, because they haven’t had access to the kind of vaccines that we have,” she said. “We’re not seeing a lot of local transmission, which is really hopeful on our end.”

Virus transmission in Clallam County has been between unvaccinated community members, as none of the six confirmed breakthrough cases — people who had received their final vaccination shot at least two weeks prior to infection — have infected someone else, Berry said.

Jefferson County has had five breakthrough cases, Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, has said.

“A lot of people assume that all of us are vaccinated, but about half of (Clallam County) are unvaccinated, and that’s really where we’re seeing transmission at this point,” Berry said.

She recommends that those hesitant about being vaccinated for COVID-19 talk with their health care provider or call the public health departments to ask questions. It’s also a good idea to ask about the experiences of friends who have been vaccinated, she added.

Jefferson County is conducting a pop-up clinic at Brinnon School District’s gym on Saturday using Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, as well as providing second doses of Moderna’s vaccine.

The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to noon, and while appointments are preferred, walk-ins for both vaccines will be accepted and appointments can be made at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-BrinnonVax or by calling 360-344-9791.

Clallam County Public Health is conducting three pop-up clinics this weekend using Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Two are planned in downtown Port Angeles from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Sunday at the visitors center and one from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Sequim farmers market.

The full calendar for pop-up clinics in Clallam County can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-ClallamPopUps.

The state has a vaccination locator at https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov, which allows users to see where appointments are available and which vaccine will be used. While all state residents 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, anyone younger than 18 can receive only Pfizer’s vaccine.

Clallam County has confirmed 106 cases so far this month, about 7.91 percent of the 1,340 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data.

A total of 26 cases have been confirmed so far this month in Jefferson County, about 6.25 percent of the 416 total cases confirmed in the past year, according to county public health data.

Twenty-one COVID-19 cases were active as of Wednesday in Clallam County, with two patients currently hospitalized and one in the intensive care unit. Jefferson County had four active cases Wednesday.

A total of 11 Clallam residents have died from COVID-19, while three Jefferson residents have died from the disease since the beginning of the pandemic.

Both counties are in the state’s moderate-risk category, with Clallam County having a case rate of 57 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Wednesday, while Jefferson County has a case rate of 28.21 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

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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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