Local healthcare providers have run out of doses of the two currently available vaccines for COVID-19 and new appointments vaccinations have been temporarily paused, Jefferson County Emergency …
Local healthcare providers have run out of doses of the two currently available vaccines for COVID-19 and new appointments vaccinations have been temporarily paused, Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Willie Bence said Monday.
Jefferson Healthcare said it has immunized more than 2,000 people over the past two weeks, and all people who have confirmed appointments for a second dose of coronavirus vaccine through its drive-thru clinic will still get their shots.
The county’s Department of Emergency Management has been setting up appointments for vaccinations, and Bence said there’s been a halt due to no vaccines being available after all local supplies have been exhausted.
Jefferson County Public Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke said the county was one of the first in the country to receive vaccines, and Jefferson County received a disproportional amount of doses early on.
But no new shipments of vaccine have been received in Jefferson County in the past two weeks.
And future shipments are expected to drop off, he told county commissioners at their weekly pandemic update Monday.
“We’re actually going to see a decrease in vaccine coming to Jefferson County for probably several weeks, then it will even out,” Locke said.
As of Monday, Jefferson County had the fourth highest rate of COVID-19 vaccinations per population in Washington state. Health officials said 4,255 doses of COVID vaccines had been administered through Jan. 25.
Locke said 400 shots were given per day over the weekend.
Locke said local healthcare providers and first responders have completed their two-dose regimen.
Prioritizing who qualifies for a vaccination, and the difficulty in getting an appointment, have led to frustration in the community, officials acknowledged.
Locke said the state has a goal of administering 45,000 doses a day, a substantial increase in the approximately 15,000 shots given each day in Washington.
Demand for the vaccine, however, still far outpaces the supply.
“We’ve got to get three times as much vaccine ... to reach that target,” Locke said.
He said it will likely take four to seven months to vaccinate everyone in Washington state against COVID-19, Locke added.
Jefferson County has a population of 12,000 people over the age of 65.
If the county had a thousand doses of vaccine to distribute each week, it would take 12 weeks to vaccinate that population, Locke said.
“It’s a very difficult thing to wait,” he said, especially when people see others they know on social media who have been vaccinated.
Locke said it was simply impossible to vaccinate everyone at once.
“Like it or not, a lot of people are going to have to wait,” he said.
Commissioner Heidi Eisenhour asked Locke to pull out his crystal ball to forecast what will happen to community programs and festivals for later in the year, including the Wooden Boat Festival in September.
“Those kind of late summer events are a possibility,” Locke offered.
That prediction is based on the hope that 70 percent or more of the population is vaccinated by then. The resumption of some events in mid-summer or late summer could happen, though some health precautions would still continue.
Locke said he is working with Bence on a mass vaccination plan that would use high schools as vaccination sites.
“All that is ahead. But the timeline is entirely determined by the vaccine supply,” Locke said.
Two new cases of COVID-19 were found in Jefferson County, public health officials reported Friday.
Officials have found 279 COVID-19 cases in the county since the start of the pandemic.
The pair of new cases involve a mid-county woman in her 60s, and a mid-county female under the age of 20.
A total of 20 people in Jefferson County were still awaiting COVID-19 test results Friday.
Health officials said 14 people with COVID-19 remain in isolation.
A total of 220 residents have recovered from COVID through Jan. 22. According to the health department, 22 residents have been hospitalized after getting the coronavirus, and two deaths in Jefferson County have been attributed to the disease.
Through Jan. 22, a total of 17,046 tests have been administered for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 16,747 tests have come back negative.
Through Friday, 124 COVID cases have been found in Port Townsend residents; 128 in mid-county residents; and 27 in south county (Quilcene, Brinnon, and West Jefferson).
In his pandemic update Monday, Locke said most new infections have been traced to unsafe behavior; people who are not using face masks or host visitors who have not been wearing masks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now estimating that 59 percent of the COVID-19 cases are coming from people who are asymptomatic, Locke said.
People need to continue to social distance, wear masks, wash their hands regularly and take other measures to stay safe.
“You have to be vigilant all the time,” Locke said.
Frustration over the pandemic continues to boil over at the political level.
County Commissioner Kate Dean noted Monday that she’s been involved in discussions with county commissioners across the state, including “quite conservative counterparts” in Eastern Washington who are strongly behind two pending bills in the Legislature.
One would force the entire state into Phase 2 of COVID recovery and the other would strip Gov. Jay Inslee of his public health emergency authority.
“I spend a fair amount of time typing in the chat box, ‘Jefferson County does not support that bill.’ ‘Jefferson County is not interested in this bill.’
“That’s the political divide we live in,” Dean said.
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