Nurse Kelly Bower with the Jamestown Family Health Clinic gives a Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to Capt. Derrell Sharp with Clallam County Fire District 3 on Dec. 29 at the fire station’s headquarters. Clinic leaders say they’ve begun circulating the vaccine to first responders and plan to offer community vaccinations in the coming weeks. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Nurse Kelly Bower with the Jamestown Family Health Clinic gives a Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to Capt. Derrell Sharp with Clallam County Fire District 3 on Dec. 29 at the fire station’s headquarters. Clinic leaders say they’ve begun circulating the vaccine to first responders and plan to offer community vaccinations in the coming weeks. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine circulated to Sequim first responders

Community vaccines tentatively begin in coming weeks for residents 75-plus

Some Sequim-area first responders received their first of two vaccinations for COVID-19 this week.

Staff with Jamestown Family Health Clinic provided the Moderna vaccine at the Clallam County Fire District 3 headquarters for fire district staff and volunteers, Olympic Ambulance employees and Sequim Police Department staff.

Blaine Zechenelly, a volunteer EMT and disaster planner, and volunteer EMT Sandy Boudrou were the first to receive the vaccine.

Zechenelly said he’s not in the high risk category for the virus and relatively healthy but with a grandbaby being born soon said he wants to be safe and also able to help the Sequim community if needed.

“If I want to take care of the community, I want to get it,” he said. “If (the virus spreads quickly) then I’ll be one of the people who can help.”

Capt. Derrell Sharp, the fire district’s medical safety officer, said Brent Simcosky, director of health services at the clinic, reached out to him about two weeks ago about potential vaccinations availability, and on Christmas Eve asked to set up dates this week.

Sharp sent out information about the vaccinations in recent weeks; vaccinations are voluntary for staff, he noted.

Of 110 volunteer, career and non-emergency staffers, 39 signed up for a vaccine, he said.

“I think the numbers will increase,” Sharp said.

“I’m getting it because I’m going into homes of the most vulnerable people and I don’t want to contribute to the spread.”

Second doses are scheduled 28 days apart from the first, medical officials say.

Sharp said the district tried to schedule vaccinations so the second doses are on the different shifts’ last working days in case they experienced side effects from the second dose, such as headaches and/or fevers.

When asked for comment about why they opted not to take the vaccine, some fire officials chose not to comment or were unavailable.

Sharp said many fire staff weren’t an outright “no,” but that they’d like to wait.

Fire district staff can change their mind to receive or not to receive the vaccine, he said, and personnel can also schedule with Jamestown for one.

Dr. Molly Martin, deputy medical director for the Jamestown Family Health Clinic, said they received the Moderna vaccination because it doesn’t require strict storage temperatures.

Last week, health and eye clinic staffers were given the option to take the vaccination, she said.

“I understand the fear of unknowns,” Martin said. “The vaccine has been developed under sound medical research.”

She said the theory behind mRNA (Messenger RNA) vaccines — some of the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States — has been around for more than 20 years.

Simcosky said Jamestown Family Health Clinic will tentatively begin community vaccinations at two locations the week of Jan. 11 for residents ages 75-plus, with more details to come.

Sharp said he believes after reading the vaccines’ studies, he feels “no corners were cut,” and that getting a vaccine “seems like the right thing to do.”

Zechenelly said people should consult a primary care physician first to see if there are any issues with taking the vaccine.

Medical officials say clinic trials have the Moderna vaccine at about 94 percent effective.

For more information, visit the Washington State Department of Health website, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, and/or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration site.

Blaine Zechenelly, a volunteer EMT and disaster planner with Clallam County Fire District 3, was the first Sequim-area first responder to receive a COVID-19 vaccine this week. Medical assistant Liz Moseley with Jamestown Family Health Clinic helped provide vaccinations 
Dec. 29.

Blaine Zechenelly, a volunteer EMT and disaster planner with Clallam County Fire District 3, was the first Sequim-area first responder to receive a COVID-19 vaccine this week. Medical assistant Liz Moseley with Jamestown Family Health Clinic helped provide vaccinations Dec. 29.

Nurse Kelly Bower with Jamestown Family Health Clinic provides a 
COVID-19 vaccine to volunteer EMT Sandy Boudrou at the Clallam County Fire District 3 headquarters Dec. 29. Boudrou was one of about 20-plus people with the department, Olympic Ambulance and Sequim Police Department that day. Sequim Gazette photos by Matthew Nash

Nurse Kelly Bower with Jamestown Family Health Clinic provides a COVID-19 vaccine to volunteer EMT Sandy Boudrou at the Clallam County Fire District 3 headquarters Dec. 29. Boudrou was one of about 20-plus people with the department, Olympic Ambulance and Sequim Police Department that day. Sequim Gazette photos by Matthew Nash

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