Those in the Phase 1B2 category for COVID-19 vaccinations are now able to schedule appointments at clinics across the North Olympic Peninsula.
The tier of 1B2 officially opened Wednesday. It adds critical workers in congregate settings such as grocery stores, food banks, agriculture, courts, jails and corrections, as well as first responders not vaccinated under 1A, and people older than 16 who are pregnant or who have disabilities that put them at high risk for COVID-19 complications. Those who were eligible under prior tiers remain eligible for shots.
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s Sequim clinic also added anyone older than 50. Tribes, because they are sovereign nations, can act contrary to the state’s vaccination priorities; no other entities can do so.
Both Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry and Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke urge all those who are eligible to sign up for vaccination appointments.
Berry estimated that between 4,000 and 5,000 people are eligible under 1B2 in Clallam County.
She expects to have most of them vaccinated with the first dose over the next two weeks.
“We’re finding that we’re able to consistently vaccinate a whole tier before the state is ready to move to the next tier,” Berry said.
Locke estimated that about 2,400 or more people are eligible under 1B2 in Jefferson County. Depending on vaccination allocations from the state, the county also could be able to work through the first doses for that group in about two weeks, he said.
The state’s first-dose allocations are variable week to week. However, the state guarantees the delivery of the second-dose shipments, and people who are vaccinated with the first dose have their second dose appointment scheduled then.
“The first-dose allocations are a big ‘if’,” Locke said, adding that the state has announced it will change its allocation formula.
“We’re trying to even figure out how it works,” Locke said. “There’s a lot of things that are unclear. We’re uncertain about what the vaccination allocations are going to be, so we can’t project how fast we’ll get through the certain groups.”
Locke doesn’t expect any problem with vaccine allotment next week.
The state has full control over how much vaccine is shipped where within the state.
Both counties will be prepared for the next phase of vaccinations expected to start April 12, health officers said, adding that they believe they would be ready if the state follows President Joe Biden’s mandate of opening vaccinations for everyone starting May 1.
“I think Clallam will definitely be ready for that and I hope that will encourage the state to move in that direction as well,” Berry said. “I think we’re reaching a point of adequate vaccine supply, and we need to make the barrier for vaccinations lower.
“There still needs to be some tiering through April, but I’m optimistic that even those tiers are going to get relaxed, so even more people could potentially become eligible.”
The Jamestown S’Klallam’s Sequim clinic, which includes 1B2 and those 50 and older, has appointments available at vaccine.clallam.net/register.
Jefferson County’s Chimacum High School Clinic on Sunday has appointments available for Jefferson residents who are eligible, and appointments can be made online at bit.ly/jeffcovax or by calling 360-344-9791.
Clallam County’s Port Angeles High School clinic this Saturday and Sunday has appointments opening today at 9 a.m. at vaccine.clallam.net/register or by phone at 360-417-2430.
Appointments for Jefferson Healthcare’s clinic can be made at jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.
Those using Jefferson County clinics are asked to fill out the state’s Phase Finder tool at FindYour PhaseWA.org and print the eligibility sheet with them to their vaccination appointment. Clallam County doesn’t require that.
Clallam County confirmed three new cases Wednesday, while Jefferson County added one new case.
Clallam County has confirmed 32 cases of COVID-19 so far this month, about 3.1 percent of the 1,033 cases confirmed during the past year, according to county data.
Jefferson County has confirmed two cases this month, about 0.59 percent of the 338 cases confirmed in the past year, according to county Public Health data.
Sixteen COVID-19 cases were active as of Wednesday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had two active cases with one hospitalized.
Jefferson County is in the state’s low-risk category with a case rate of 3.13 per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Saturday, while Clallam County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 33 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as to Wednesday.