More now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Restaurant and construction workers can get vaccinations against COVID-19 today, according to the state, which will open Tiers 1B3 and 1B4 on Wednesday.

Both Jefferson and Clallam counties will expand vaccination availability.

Also eligible beginning today are those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, lung disease and chemotherapy patients.

The conditions listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is published at tinyurl.com/PDN-ChronicConditions.

“If you have a chronic medical problem, you’re probably on that list,” Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, has said.

Those previously eligible for vaccinations under previous phases remain eligible for shots.

It’s good news, but both Jefferson and Clallam county health officers warn not only that the pandemic isn’t over but also that cases are rising among young people, who won’t be eligible for vaccinations under state rules until May 1.

Young adults and children are some of the main drivers of the current rise of COVID-19 infections statewide and throughout the nation, and that may bleed into rising infections on the North Olympic Peninsula if people aren’t cautious, local health officers said.

The children and young adult age group basically includes anyone younger than 39, Locke said.

Most of the recent cases during the past two weeks in Clallam County are among children and young adults. Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry urges all residents to continue to use caution with rising case numbers statewide.

“I think with decreasing case numbers and also some signals that people are understandably taking from us moving to Phase 3 of the state recovery plan, I think that some folks are over interpreting that to mean that the pandemic is over and we can start gathering again,” she said. “It just isn’t. We’re not quite there yet.

“My big worry is if we all let down our guard, especially those who are unvaccinated, then we will end up seeing a fourth wave in our community.”

If people let down their guard too soon and relax on social distancing, getting fully vaccinated, wearing face masks and avoiding travel and gatherings, the time frame of recovering from the pandemic economically and epidemiologically will be extended, Locke said.

“It would be a tragedy for a person who has gotten this far without getting infected, that it would happen to them in the next couple of months, just because they got tired of all the restrictions,” he said.

Serious infections among younger people are not as common as they are in older populations. But they can still happen. The more contagious U.K. variant of the novel coronavirus also has been seen to cause more serious infections, Berry said.

One child was recently hospitalized and has since recovered from a severe case of COVID-19, she said.

Jefferson County had its first new case in a week, while Clallam County confirmed two new cases, both on Tuesday.

Appointments for vaccination clinics this Saturday and on April 10 at Port Angeles High School — there will not be a clinic Sunday due to the Easter holiday — can be made at vaccine.clallam.net/register. Appointments also can be made by phone at 360-417-2430.

Appointments for the Jamestown Sequim clinics on Thursday for Clallam residents 18 and older were still available as of 4 p.m. Tuesday. As a sovereign nation, Jamestown can vaccinate outside of the state’s priority list; appointments can be made at vaccine.clallam.net/register or by phone at 360-417-2430.

Appointments for Jefferson Healthcare’s clinic can be made at jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.

Clallam County has confirmed 57 cases of COVID-19 so far this month, about 5.39 percent of the 1,058 cases confirmed during the past year, according to county data.

Jefferson County has confirmed nine cases this month, about 2.61 percent of the 345 cases confirmed in the past year, according to county Public Health data.

Fifteen COVID-19 cases were active as of Tuesday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had two active cases.

Jefferson County is in the state’s low-risk category with a case rate of about 22 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 34 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior to Tuesday.

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