This coming weekend is the last planned for large-scale first-dose mass vaccination clinics by public health departments in Clallam and Jefferson counties as officials plan to shift their focus to smaller pop-up clinics to reach people who may not have been able to attend the larger clinics.
At the same time, Clallam County’s health officer, Dr. Allison Berry, thinks county cases may be reaching a plateau, while Jefferson County’s health officer, Dr. Tom Locke, said the county is continuing to see a slow rise.
Clallam County confirmed six new cases Tuesday for a total of 112 cases of COVID-19 so far this month, about 9.52 percent of the 1,177 cases during the past year, according to county data.
Jefferson County confirmed four new cases Tuesday for a total of 32 cases so far in April, about 8.47 percent of the 378 cases in the past year, according to county Public Health data.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we are plateauing right now,” Berry said. “So, I think much of the community saw the warnings when they saw the case numbers go up and so we’re seeing some improved behavior and some more caution,” with people adhering more to health measures such as wearing face masks and using social distancing.
“I’m hopeful that will continue while more of us get vaccinated as well, and that will get our numbers back down to where we need them.”
In addition to a slow increase in cases in Jefferson County, Locke has noticed a rise in more severe cases statewide.
“Unfortunately we don’t see signs at the state level of things plateauing,” he said. “In fact, it increased fairly dramatically this week.
“We’re seeing all the evidence of a variant-driven fourth wave. A lot of people have been vaccinated, and that’s a big plus, but it’s still not enough. Vaccine is available. We have appointments open at a variety of venues.”
Officials are urging those eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 — all who are 16 and older — to get the shots as a fourth wave fueled largely by variants — mutations of the original virus — rolls through the state.
The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved right now for people 16 and older. The Moderna and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for those 18 and older, but Johnson & Johnson remained on a temporary pause Tuesday as investigators examine a potential link between very rare incidents of blood clots.
The Port Angeles High School clinic Saturday is full, but appointments for the Sunday Pfizer clinic are still available at vaccine.clallam.net/register or by phone at 360-417-2430. The county will continue to operate the clinic for people due for their scheduled second-dose appointments, Berry said.
Jefferson County Public Health’s Moderna vaccination clinic this Saturday at the Chimacum School District Multi-Purpose Room has appointments available at bit.ly/jeffcovax or by calling 360-344-9791. The county will operate the clinic for scheduled second doses in May, Locke said.
A Clallam County pop-up clinic is planned from 1-5 p.m. Thursday at First Step Family Support Center, at 323 E. Sixth St. in Port Angeles, hoping to reach busy parents. The clinic will offer Moderna vaccine for those 18 and older.
Clallam County officials also are working with the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Bar Hop to put on a pop-up clinic in downtown Port Angeles to reach busy restaurant workers and patrons, Berry said, adding she expects to have more information soon.
“I think my biggest focus right now is what we can do to increase access to and utilization of vaccine,” Berry said. “We’re certainly running into some hesitancy. We’re doing what we can to overcome those barriers.
“I’m excited about the pop-ups we have coming up. We’re hopeful when we kind of decrease the time and space barriers to getting vaccinated, then more people will have more access to vaccines.”
Access to vaccines has been an issue for some residents, either among those restaurant workers working two or three jobs and not having the time to get an appointment or those who lack transportation to and from the clinics, Locke and Berry have said.
Jefferson County had a pop-up clinic in Quilcene recently and is planning future ones in Brinnon and other parts of the county, Locke said.
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe will not have another mass first-dose vaccination clinic unless Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is released for use.
Appointments for Jefferson Healthcare’s clinics can be made at jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.
Forks Community Hospital has a Moderna vaccination clinic scheduled for April 30. More information can be found at ForksHospital.org.
Thirty-four COVID-19 cases were active as of Tuesday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had 14 active cases.
Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category with a case rate of 116 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Tuesday, while Jefferson County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 72.10 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.