County Public Health Report ~ 10/18

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 Deputy Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke. Also Willie Bence, Director, Director of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

Deputy Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke today told the Commissioners that the FDA Advisory Committee last week met to consider booster shots for the Moderna and J&J vaccines, and the panel voted to support boosters for both. The next step is Wednesday when the Centers for Disease Control advisory committee meets. It is expected they will likely approve a half-strength shot for Moderna. The vaccine contains three times the active ingredient as the Pfizer vaccine. As for J&J, Dr. Locke said there is less certainty as to what’s going to happen. Local pharmacies will be making the booster available. The DEM will also plan for special clinics in the coming weeks. Call 360-344-9791 for updates and scheduling information.

Jefferson County now ranks lowest in the state in terms of average daily cases. San Juan County ranks second, followed by King. We are 10 cases per 100,000 on average per day. The two-week case rate is 157 cases per 100,000. Dr. Locke said these three lowest-ranked counties also have the three highest rates of vaccination. There were two COVID-19 admissions to Jefferson Healthcare over the weekend and one county resident currently with severe disease is in a Seattle hospital. Dr. Locke said relative to the rest of the state, Jefferson County is benefiting from its high vaccination levels and its diligent efforts to control transmission. “There’s really no way out of the pandemic without widespread vaccination,” he said. “We really need to get population immunity to 90% or higher if we want this to come to an end.” “I’m warning people that that vaccine requirements are going to become more widespread, not less widespread…,” Dr. Locke explained. “If we do this right, there is some modeling that says if we increase vaccination rates and continue masking and other control measures until rates are really low, we could see a steady drop in cases through the winter and things would, by and large, be over by March, 2022.”

Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence said this past weekend’s Pfizer vaccination clinic at the Blue Heron School in Port Townsend set a record for number of shots in arms – 726. This coming weekend, there’s a clinic planned at the Quilcene High School, 9am to noon, and 1-4pm. As of Monday morning, there were 240 appointments still available. Call 360-344-9791 or visit the Jefferson County Public Health website to make an appointment. Bence also said if you are homebound, call the DEM and get on a list for home “visits. Bence said booster doses for Moderna will also be scheduled as soon as it receives CDC approval.

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