Health officers: Peninsula ready for expanded COVID vaccine eligibility

Gov. Jay Inslee announced an update to the vaccination timeline on Thursday, saying that the state will move to phase 1B2 on March 22.

The phase 1B2 includes high-risk critical workers such as grocery store employees, agriculture workers, and workers in certain congregate settings, as well as law enforcement, firefighters and corrections, according to the state.

Added to that list are people 16 and older who have a disability that puts them in a high-risk category or are pregnant, according to the state.

Originally, the workers were required to be 50 and older in the initial plan, but that requirement was stricken as of Thursday.

Current vaccinations are going well on the North Olympic Peninsula, officials say, and county health officers believe that both Clallam and Jefferson counties will be ready to move on to the next phase in the next two to three weeks.

That puts the Peninsula on par with state plans.

“I feel good about the pace we’re moving at,” said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer. “We’re moving as fast as the vaccine comes.

“We’re lucky to be in a good position to distribute vaccine, including the newly added educators and childcare professionals.”

As of Wednesday, Clallam County had vaccinated 30.29 percent of its population with first doses, and 17.69 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

efferson County had vaccinated 28.22 percent of its population with the first dose, and 15.73 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

A total of 37,954 vaccine doses have been administered in Clallam County and 12,376 doses have been administered in Jefferson County as of Wednesday, according to the state’s dashboard.

While currently the limiting factor of vaccinations is the amount of vaccine, shipments are expected to increase perhaps as early as the end of the month, and Jefferson County officials are currently planning for mass vaccination clinics at Chimacum High School once there is enough doses, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

“This week is a big push on vaccinations, both with dealing with the expanded list and preparing for what it’s now looking like in late March and certainly in April and May, when we think that the supply spigot is really going to open up,” Locke said.

“They’ll be more of everything. More of all three vaccines.”

Clallam County residents or people who work in Clallam County who are teachers or school staff, childcare workers, 65 and older or 50 and older in a multigenerational household can sign up for appointments at the Port Angeles High School clinic or the Jamestown S’Klallam’s Sequim clinics at vaccine.clallam.net/register.

Those who must schedule by phone can call 360-417-2430. As of 4 p.m. Thursday, appointments were still available for both clinics.

A multi-generational household is defined as a person older than 50 living with grandchildren or older relatives, or if they care for an older relative or grandchildren or a loved one with disabilities, Berry has said.

Jefferson Healthcare expanded its “When is it my turn?” list to also include teachers, school staff and childcare workers, as well as those 50 and older in multigenerational households who are Jefferson residents or hospital patients.

They can join those who are 65 and older in signing up at jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine, said Amy Yaley, Jefferson Healthcare spokesperson.

Yaley also said those in multi-generational households or who are among the educators/childcare workers will need to go to the state’s vaccine phase finder at tinyurl.com/PDN-PhaseFinderTool and print their eligibility notices.

Clallam County does not require the use of the phase finder tool for its vaccination clinics, Berry said.

Clallam County’s test positivity — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 1.6 percent from Feb. 15 to March 1, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County’s test positivity was 1.03 percent for Feb. 22-28.

Clallam County confirmed one new case Thursday and so far this month, the county has confirmed nine cases of COVID-19, about 0.89 percent of the 1,010 cases confirmed since March 2020, according to Clallam County data.

Jefferson County has confirmed one case this month, about 0.3 percent of the 336 it has confirmed since March 2020, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

Twelve COVID-19 cases were active as of Thursday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had four active cases.

Clallam County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 33 per 100,000 population during the past two weeks as of Thursday.

Jefferson County is in the state’s low-risk category with a case rate of 18.81 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

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