Vaccine supply is limited, peninsula health officers say

The amount of COVID -19 vaccine available continues to be the limiting factor in providing vaccinations on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Two new cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday in Jefferson County, while Clallam County reported none, as the first vaccination clinic in Sequim began and appointments in Jefferson County were opened.

Vaccination clinic information for both Clallam and Jefferson can be found at tinyurl.com/PDN-VaccineClinics.

In Clallam County, the vaccination clinic appointments in Port Angeles filled fast on Wednesday, and a drive-up clinic in Sequim saw a very high turnout early Thursday, reaching capacity quickly, due to the small amounts of vaccine the county has in comparison to the eligible population, said Dr. Allison Berry Unthank, Clallam County health officer.

“We’re not going to be able to take care of everybody with this first round of vaccinations,” Unthank said. “There will be additional events as soon as we have stable vaccine supply.

“So, what we are planning for whenever we can get stable vaccine supply from the state is to move up vaccine events that can vaccinate 1,000 people a day, and to do them every weekend.,” she added.

“If you didn’t get into the Jamestown line (Thursday) morning, know that there are three more days for Jamestown, and also there will be more events coming soon.”

Currently, county health departments are informed of impending vaccine deliveries the day or two before it arrives, which makes it difficult to plan future clinics, Unthank said.

“We know we don’t have enough vaccine for the people who want it right now,” Unthank said. “I think that’s the biggest limiting factor right now.

“There’s been some confusion that people think that if we had a bigger venue or more people that we could do more, but really we can only do 4,000 (right now) because that’s all we’ve got.”

Jefferson Healthcare began accepting vaccination appointments for next week on Thursday, and by 1 p.m., more than 300 appointments had been made for residents over the age of 85, said Amy Yaley, Jefferson Healthcare spokesperson.

“By utilizing an age band system we are able to immunize our most frail and vulnerable population in a safe and orderly fashion,” Yaley said.

“Given the unpredictability in shipment allocations from the state and our ongoing staffing issues — since the pandemic began — this makes a gigantic and momentous task a little more manageable for Jefferson Healthcare.”

The reason vaccine deliveries to the Peninsula are not consistent at this time is due to the state funneling more doses to areas, such as Seattle, that are behind on vaccinating the 1A group, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

Vaccine doses are still extremely limited, especially when compared to the older populations in Jefferson and Clallam counties, as more than 7,000 residents in Jefferson County and more than 9,000 residents in Clallam County are older than 70, said Locke and Unthank.

“We’re in a situation right now where there are many more who want to get the vaccine —and who are eligible for [it] — than there is vaccine to meet the need,” Locke said. “That’s going to be the main limiter right now, is vaccine supply.

“Our plan in Jefferson County is try to get as much vaccine as we can and administer it as rapidly and as safely as possible.”

So far this month, Clallam County has confirmed 105 cases, about 12.3 percent of the 854 it has confirmed since March, according to Clallam County Public Health data.

Jefferson County has confirmed 42 cases of COVID-19, about 16.3 percent of the 262 it has confirmed since March, according to Jefferson County Public Health data.

Eighty-nine COVID-19 cases were active as of Thursday in Clallam County, with one person hospitalized.

Jefferson County had 20 active cases, with two cases currently hospitalized and one in the Intensive Care Unit.

The test positivity on the Peninsula — the percentage of tests returned positive — was 7.7 percent in Clallam County for Dec. 28 to Jan. 10 and 3.18 percent in Jefferson County for Jan. 4-10.

Both counties are in the state’s high-risk category, with case rates of 159 cases per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Thursday, and Jefferson County at 125.39 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Monday.

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