Peninsula nears 50 percent full vaccination

The North Olympic Peninsula is approaching 50 percent of its full population being vaccinated for COVID-19, with more than 50 percent of eligible residents already fully vaccinated, health officials said Thursday.

Public health officials said they hope to vaccinate as many residents as possible, with goals of vaccinating more than 80 percent of the population, to protect the community against COVID-19 and bring an end to the pandemic.

Jefferson County added an additional COVID-19 case late Wednesday afternoon and on Thursday, raising the total number of cases to 400 that have been confirmed in the last year, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

Jefferson has confirmed 10 cases so far this month, 2.5 percent of the 400 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county Public Health data. Clallam County confirmed seven new cases Thursday, which continue be associated with three super-spreader events — one wedding and two parties — that have now have resulted in 115 COVID-19 cases in the county since April 16, said Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer.

The events had between 30 and 45 attendees who were primarily unvaccinated and unmasked, Berry has said. One was located in Port Angeles, one was on the West End and one was in Sequim, she said. Many of those infected are children.

As a result of the subsequent virus exposures, outbreaks now being tracked in Clallam County include four daycare centers and a high school wrestling team, Berry has said.

Clallam County has confirmed 37 cases so far this month, about 2.91 percent of the 1,270 cases reported since the pandemic began, according to county data.

As of Monday, 48.4 percent of Clallam’s overall population has initiated vaccination, while 42 percent are fully vaccinated. Among residents 16 and older who are eligible for vaccinations, 57 percent have started vaccination, while 50 percent are fully vaccinated, said Berry on Thursday.

As of Monday, Jefferson County reported 60.57 percent of the overall population has initiated vaccination, with 50.66 percent fully vaccinated. Among residents 16 and older, 68.1 percent have started vaccinations, with 57 percent fully vaccinated, said Locke on Thursday.

There have been rare breakthrough cases — confirmed COVID-19 cases contracted after someone was fully immunized — with two in Jefferson and four in Clallam, said Locke and Berry.

“It’s something we expected all along,” said Locke. “We know the vaccine is extraordinarily effective, but it’s not 100 percent and also we know that it’s not equally effective for every person.

“The older you are and the immune deficiency you have, the less effective the vaccine is. But that’s actually an argument for people who are healthy and have a good reaction to the vaccine to get vaccinated, because it’s not just about their welfare, if they’re unvaccinated and get infected, they could spread to someone who the vaccine doesn’t work well for.”

Both health officers continue to urge residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccines are available at the vast majority of pharmacies and health clinics on the Peninsula, they said. Vaccinations are free and the state has a locator at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.

Clallam County also has the Port Angeles Barhop’s, “a Shot and a Beer” pop-up clinics using Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine from 5-8 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Monday at 124 W. Railroad Ave. The clinics will be open to those 18 and older, but only those 21 and older who receive the shots will also be able to each get a free beer.

Fifty-four COVID-19 cases were active as of Thursday in Clallam County, with two patients currently hospitalized and one in the Intensive Care Unit. Jefferson County had eight active cases Thursday.

The Peninsula has had 12 deaths related to COVID-19, with nine in Clallam County and three in Jefferson County.

Clallam County is in the state’s high-risk category with a case rate of 118 per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Thursday, while Jefferson County is in the moderate-risk category with a case rate of 62.7 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Saturday.

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