As of last week, leaders with the Jamestown Family Clinic report their staff with an outpouring of community support has administered more than 17,500 people vaccines in the Sequim area for COVID-19.
Of that total, about 12,500 went through the 16-week drive-through tent area in Carrie Blake Community Park, said Brent Simcosky, the tribe’s health services director, via email.
He told city councilors at their regular meeting on May 24 that because of the high total, the city may have reached herd immunity.
“Bottom line is the high percentage of vaccinated people in the Sequim area will make it difficult for community transmission,” Simcosky said via email.
Because of unavailability of vaccine numbers by city, Clallam County Health Officer Allison Berry said it’s difficult to say what the vaccination rate is in Sequim.
“It is highly likely that Sequim is near the 70 percent threshold given the demographics of the city and the tribe’s incredible work making the COVID-19 vaccine accessible to Sequim residents,” she said in an email.
“We are also seeing evidence of that in our contact tracing — we have no sustained transmission in the Sequim area, just sporadic cases among unvaccinated residents who travel.”
Berry added that “the high rate of vaccination in the Sequim area is likely to be protective of the community as a whole as we move into the summer months.”
She encourages unvaccinated residents to consider the vaccine, and to speak to their doctors or officials with the Department of Public Health with questions.
Vaccination clinics continue at area clinics, pharmacies and pop-up clinics such as those held at Sequim High School. Find availability at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov with nearby clinics and updated county transmission/vaccination totals at clallam.net/coronavirus.
During the May 24 city council meeting, Mayor William Armacost read a proclamation recognizing community partners for vaccination efforts, saying, in part, that “our best hope for successfully protecting the public from this disease and returning lives to normalcy and peace is the rapid administration of vaccines to the greatest number of people possible.”
He also recognized the Jamestown Tribe “for their enterprising vision and persistence to assist the citizens of the Sequim region in receiving thousands of vaccinations early and organizing volunteers to effectively administer vaccines.”
During the clinic openings in the park, Armacost said 200 personnel worked 13,000 hours to support the community. He also thanked community partners, including Clallam County Health Department, Olympic Medical Center, the City of Sequim Police Department and Public Works Department, Clallam County Fire District No. 3, the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Trinity United Methodist Church, and other local participating volunteer groups.
When the clinics first opened, people were waiting for hours in their vehicles for the chance to receive a vaccine before online scheduling was created to cut down on wait times.
Despite cold weather and long waits, Simcosky said he never heard anyone complain.
“I really think this shows that when the City of Sequim and the surrounding area decides to work together we can really make a difference,” he said.
Loni Greninger, vice chairwoman for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, said she was proud of the communities working together.
“We can’t do this alone (and we’re) grateful for the partnerships through this whole pandemic,” she said. “We’re coming out of this, and I’m so glad I’m able to say that. These partnerships are forever forged in fire.”
Jim Stoffer, representing Trinity United Methodist Church, said there was “a lot of positive work and collaboration” while Fire Chief Ben Andrews with Clallam County Fire District 3 called it a unique experience with no arguments between agencies over jurisdiction or boundaries.
“Everyone threw in and wanted to make things happen,” Andrews said. “The tribe stepped up with some visionary leadership and out-of-the-box thinking that traditional government is not allowed to do.”
He added that it wouldn’t have worked without all the volunteers.
Tyler Wiles, Sequim’s emergency management coordinator, said the collaboration sets Sequim up for success if it ever faces a disaster like the Cascadia earthquake.
City councilors applauded the effort with Keith Larkin saying it was a “well-coordinated, very cooperative effort,” and Rachel Anderson saying she’s “never been more proud to be a Sequimite.”
Armacost said he thanks “everyone from the bottom of my heart,” and he was honored to be “part of such an amazing community.”
The proclamation ended with the city council asking citizens “to both celebrate our successes and continue to practice measures that move us forward in recovery.