Everyone 16 and older now eligible for COVID vaccine

All Washington state residents 16 and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations starting Thursday, and health officials are urging residents to sign up for available appointments.

Openings are available for government- and hospital-operated mass vaccination clinics, as well as individual appointments at local and chain pharmacies.

Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry and Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said they are glad the vaccination priority phases are over.

“We’re very excited about it,” Berry said. “We’re really hoping people will take advantage of that and sign up as soon as possible.

“Now is a really good time for people to sign up and get scheduled.”

Only Pfizer’s vaccine is approved for those 16 and older, while Johnson & Johnson’s and Moderna’s shots are approved for those 18 and older.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is currently paused from use while experts investigate possible connections to a rare type of blood clot suffered by six women within 13 days of receiving the vaccine, which has been given to about 6.85 million people.

Many local pharmacies across the North Olympic Peninsula are scheduling individual appointments.

The state has created a vaccination locator at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.

Some of the larger grocery stores such as Walmart, Safeway and QFC receive regular shipments of COVID-19 vaccines.

Appointments can be made on their websites when available: Walmart.com/covidvaccine; safeway.com/vaccinations/home; or qfc.com/rx/covid-eligibility.

The state said Wednesday that, of the more than 1.7 million people who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in the state, there have been 217 “breakthrough” cases reported statewide. A breakthrough case is defined as a one in which a fully vaccinated person becomes ill with COVID-19.

Two of those cases were in Clallam County, Berry said, adding that both had mild symptoms.

“With a 95 percent effective vaccine, some rare cases of COVID-19 among those who are vaccinated are expected, especially as cases rise in the community,” she said via text message Wednesday.

“The vaccines work very well against the new variants and will work even better if more of us get vaccinated.”

As of Wednesday, no breakthrough cases had been reported in Jefferson County, Locke said.

Clallam County’s test percent positivity — the percentage of COVID-19 tests returned positive — rose to 6.3 percent for the period of March 26 to April 9, while Jefferson County’s test positivity rose to 2.79 percent for the period of April 5-11, according to county public health data.

Berry and Locke urge people to get tested as soon as possible if they develop cold-like symptoms.

“Testing volumes are down and this makes it hard for us to monitor and react to fourth wave cases,” Locke said in a text message Wednesday.

“Testing for Covid is more important than ever and helps protect family members, co-workers and the community at large.”

Appointments for Jefferson Healthcare’s clinics can be made at jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.

Appointments for both Saturday and Sunday clinics at Port Angeles High School can be made at vaccine.clallam.net/register or by phone at 360-417-2430. Appointments for April 24 and 25 also are open.

Jefferson County Public Health’s appointment-only Moderna vaccination clinic this Saturday at the Chimacum School District Multi-Purpose Room is full, but appointments can be for the April 24 clinic at bit.ly/jeffcovax or by calling 360-344-9791.

Forks Community Hospital has a Moderna vaccination clinic scheduled for April 30. More information can be found at ForksHospital.org.

Clallam County confirmed 11 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, while Jefferson County had one new case.

Clallam County has confirmed 84 cases of COVID-19 so far this month, about 7.31 percent of the 1,149 cases during the past year, according to county data.

Jefferson County has confirmed 17 cases so far in April, about 4.68 percent of the 363 cases in the past year, according to county Public Health data.

Forty-six COVID-19 cases were active as of Wednesday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had seven active cases.

Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category with a case rate of 100 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Wednesday, while Jefferson County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of about 53 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.