COVID-19 vaccination clinics are on hold this week throughout the North Olympic Peninsula because of a lack of vaccine, but officials expect to come back stronger than ever in February.
Clallam County plans an aggressive COVID-19 vaccination campaign beginning in February, with 16,000 people in the county proposed to receive vaccinations during the month.
Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry said that the county is planning to vaccinate 4,000 people a week next month after taking a week off next week from vaccination clinics to rebuild the county’s vaccine supply.
In her Friday COVID-19 update, Berry said 9,227 people had received at least their first vaccination in Clallam County as of Thursday, about 12 percent of the population. She said about 50 percent of the people in the 1A vaccination group — first responders, health care workers — had received their second dose of the vaccine.
Berry said Clallam County is leading the state in the percentage of its population that has been vaccinated so far and in fact, the county has even received calls from out of the county from people wondering if they can schedule a vaccine in Clallam County. She pointed out that the clinics here are for Clallam County residents only.
Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County public health officer, said Jefferson County also is pausing for a week to rebuild its supply and then restarting vaccinations in February. He expects at those February dates, people 65 and older will be able to get the vaccine.
Locke said that Jefferson Healthcare has gone through 4,000 doses of vaccine and that about 3,000 people have received vaccines — about 1,000 of those are first responders and healthcare workers who have received two shots.
“That’s just under 10 percent of our population, which is pretty good,” Locke said.
Even though the state lowered the age of eligible 1B1 vaccine recipients to 65, Clallam County this weekend made appointments only for people age 70 or older because of a limited amount of vaccine. Port Angeles conducted a vaccination clinic today and it is only for people 70 or older despite the change in the state criteria.
“They changed the criteria down to 65, but unfortunately they didn’t increase the allocation of vaccine,” said Clallam County Emergency Management Coordinator Anne Chastain.
However, beginning on Feb. 6, the county will take appointments for people age 65, Chastain said.
Jefferson County, which has a large elderly population, has been scheduling vaccinations only for people 75 and older. Locke said Jefferson Healthcare, which is administering the bulk of vaccines in the county, is expected to run out of vaccine likely Monday.
Berry said Friday 1,000 people were expected to be vaccinated in Port Angeles this weekend with another 600 vaccinated in Sequim. Another 500 were expected to be vaccinated in Forks this weekend.
Berry said after a one-week pause, the clinics will return in Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks in February.
The Jamestown S’Klallam clinic in Sequim, which has been first-come, first-serve, will be moving to a registration system for the return of its clinic on Feb. 2.
There will be clinics on Feb. 4 and Feb. 6, too. These clinics will be for people 65 and older with up to 600 doses every day. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe stated that the announcement of the open online registration will occur a few days prior to the clinics.
In Clallam County, people can check at www.tinyurl.com/ClallamCovid19shot or call 360-417-2430 to get updates and to make appointments.
In Jefferson County people can check at www.jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine for updates and to make appointments.
Clallam County had four new cases Friday and two more Saturday. That gives the county 894 cases since the pandemic began in March.
Clallam County has three patients in the hospital and one in an Intensive Care Unit.
There are 36 active cases in Clallam County and an infection rate still lingering at 134 per 100,000 over the past two weeks, though that number will be recalculated Monday.
Jefferson County had two new cases Friday and none reported Saturday.
Jefferson County has 277 total cases since March and 14 actives cases in quarantine. The infection rate is 125.29 per 100,000 over the past two weeks.
Clallam and Jefferson counties are in the Northwest Region along with Kitsap and Mason counties and like every other region in Washington the Northwest Region remains in Phase 1 of COVID-19 restrictions.
According to the state Health Washington Dashboard, the region as of Friday was meeting just two out of four criteria for moving to Phase 2 — an ICU occupancy under 90 percent (77 percent in the Northwest Region) and 10 percent or lower positivity rate on COVID-19 tests. The region is at 8 percent.
However, the region is seeing a 24 percent increase in case rate and a 44 percent increase in hospitalization rate, which is above the metrics for allowing a move into Phase 2. The region must be declining in both of those metrics to move to Phase 2.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be reached at [email protected]