Flow of COVID vaccine to Olympic Peninsula to slow; reduction expected to last for three weeks

State COVID-19 vaccine allotments on the North Olympic Peninsula are expected to decrease starting next week because the state has changed its allocations to per-capita based.

The per-capita allotment is geared to help other counties catch up with counties like Jefferson and Clallam, which lead the state in percentage of population vaccinated, according to Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

Clallam County is not expected to have severe impacts to its shipments, but Jefferson County will see a significant reduction in first-shot doses beginning next week, local health officers said.

Allocations to Jefferson County are expected to be cut from 1,800 first doses — portioned out among Jefferson Healthcare, local pharmacies and the county public health department — to 600 to 800, Locke said.

Clallam County is on track to receive about 1,400 first doses starting next week, which is close to what it has been getting, so Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer, doesn’t expect a severe impact.

Doses are tracked by the state, which has guaranteed it will ship enough vaccine for second shots when people are due to get them, officials have said previously.

Doses are being prioritized to Jefferson Healthcare and the pharmacies, which means the county is expecting to pause its mass vaccination clinic at Chimacum High School beginning April 3, Locke said.

The reduction is expected to last for the next three weeks.

Sometime in mid-April, vaccination amounts are expected to drastically increase as the three vaccines now offered against COVID-19 grow more available nationwide, Locke said.

“Ultimately our goal is to get everyone in this state who wants to be vaccinated their shots, and the sooner the better,” Locke said. “We are all looking forward to the day that they’ll be no restrictions, and there will be ample supply.

“We’re hoping that we have one more month to go of this prioritization system, and we’ll just be done with it, and it will be wide open,” he added.

The state allocates 5 percent of the doses sent to the state for the tribes. Many tribes have completed their vaccinations, so it is Berry’s impression that it has been getting more.

Jamestown S’Klallam is one of the few tribes that has consistently been sharing doses with the community.

As of Wednesday, Clallam County had fully vaccinated 25.42 percent of its residents; 37.77 percent had received at least one dose.

Jefferson County had fully vaccinated 26.47 percent of its residents, and 41.30 percent had received at least one dose, according to the state’s dashboard.

Currently, both counties — with the exception of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe — are vaccinating the 1B2 category, which includes 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 deemed eligible under previous tiers remain eligible for shots.

Jamestown S’Klallam, as a sovereign nation, can choose not to follow the state’s categories. It chose to open its appointments to Clallam residents and workers older than 18.

Berry expects vaccination eligibility to increase to everyone by May.

“We’d love to see vaccines flow more freely, and we are starting to see that open up, but vaccination numbers are still much tighter than we would like at this point,” she said. “Vaccination is really critical.

“I think so many folks have gotten used to this idea of there being a shortage, that they aren’t feeling an urgency to get vaccinated once we get to the younger tiers. We really want to encourage everyone, as soon as your eligibility comes up, get vaccinated.”

Appointments for the Jamestown Sequim Clinics on March 30 and April 1 were still available as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Appointments can be made at vaccine.clallam.net/register. Appointments also can be made by phone at 360-417-2430.

Appointments for the Port Angeles High School clinics on Saturday and Sunday are full.

The Chimacum High School clinic on Saturday has appointments available for Jefferson County residents who are eligible under 1B2 and previous phases. Appointments can be made online at bit.ly/jeffcovax or by calling 360-344-9791.

Appointments for Jefferson Healthcare’s clinic can be made at jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine, and people are asked to fill out the Phase Finder tool, but it’s not required to bring the printed sheet, said Amy Yaley, hospital spokesperson.

Those using the Chimacum clinic are asked to fill out the state’s Phase Finder tool, print the eligibility sheet and bring it with them to their vaccination appointment. Clallam County doesn’t require that.

Clallam County confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and has confirmed 43 cases of COVID-19 so far this month, about 4.12 percent of the 1,044 cases confirmed during the past year, according to county data.

Jefferson County has confirmed eight cases this month, about 2.33 percent of the 344 cases confirmed in the past year, according to county Public Health data.

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

Jefferson County is in the state’s low-risk category with a case rate of about 25 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 to Wednesday.