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County Public Health Report ~ 11/22

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The following is a summary of the presentation during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting made by Jefferson and Clallam County Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry. The text is taken from the Peninsula Daily News for Nov. 23.

A Jefferson County resident has died from COVID-19, raising the total number of deaths in the county to 18 and increasing the total on the North Olympic Peninsula to 87 since the pandemic began. The most recent death was reported Monday and was a man in his 70s who had underlying conditions, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties. And while he had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, he had yet to have a booster, Berry said.

“We are seeing waning immunity, especially in folks over 70 who were vaccinated early on,” Berry said. “If you’re over 70 and you got your vaccine more than six months ago, it’s important to get a booster. “If you’re in that age group, you’re at a high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, and getting the first two doses decreases that risk, but it doesn’t decrease it to zero.” Boosters “dramatically” increase immunity for that age group, Berry said.

“People younger than 65 who have a chronic condition is another group we recommend getting a booster in,” Berry said. “For other people who are young and healthy, you’re eligible for a booster, but it’s not as critical to get a booster if you’re not in a high-risk profession. “But it does improve your immunity and does reduce your risk of transmitting the virus to other people. If there’s one available, it’s a good idea to get it. But it’s really important for our old population.” Residents can find locations offering booster doses by using the state’s vaccination locator at https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.

In addition to booster doses, health officials continue to work to vaccinate children 5 to 11 years old, Berry said. Jefferson County Public Health and the Department of Emergency Management will host two Pfizer vaccination clinics December for first and second doses for children 5 to 11: 9am to noon Dec. 4 at Blue Heron Middle School and from 9am to noon Dec. 18 at Chimacum Junior/Senior High School. Appointments can be made at https://prepmod.doh.wa.gov/appointment/en/reg/9069924918 or by calling the Department of Emergency Management at 360-344-9791.

Berry was tracking two long-term care facility outbreaks on the Peninsula as of Monday, with one each in Jefferson and Clallam counties. The Jefferson County outbreak has had a total of 13 cases so far, with one staff member infected and 12 residents, Berry said. Clallam County’s outbreak has had a total of 42 cases so far, Berry said. Both outbreaks are believed to have been started by unvaccinated staff members who were exempted for religious or medical reasons from the state’s vaccination mandate for long-term care workers, Berry said. “We’re working with the state to try to formalize that and have a more strict protocol to reduce risk that unvaccinated workers would bring into these facilities.”

Jefferson County added 19 new cases Monday from the weekend. The county has confirmed a total of 1,273 cases since the pandemic began, according to county public health data. Health officials recorded a case rate of 192.61 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Nov. 17. Prior to that, the county had a case rate of 201.93 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Nov. 10.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to Willie Bence by emailing [email protected]. Note: The weekly deadline for these to be submitted is on Fridays at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting.