OLYMPIA — Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee made the announcement that millions of Washingtonians have been waiting for: beginning next week, all Washington residents and workers age 16 and older will be eligible to receive a covid-19 vaccine.

The new eligibility date of April 15 is weeks earlier than the initial May 1 date that the state identified weeks earlier for widespread eligibility. That date was set after President Joe Biden urged states to make the vaccine eligible for everyone by the beginning of May.

Inslee estimates that another 1.2 million Washingtonians will now be eligible to be vaccinated in just a week’s time.

“Many of us are going to have to have continued patience, but I’m so happy about the rate of the vaccination we now are obtaining in the state of Washington, and eventually, we know that everybody’s going to have access to get this vaccine,” Inslee said at the news conference.

Inslee said the state was able to bump up the timeline to mid-April because delivery of the vaccine to the state has sped up in recent weeks. This week, vaccine providers in the state are expected to receive about 458,000 doses from the federal government, which the state Department of Health said is a weekly record for vaccine allocation so far.

“We are confident we can take this step because our dosage allocations have increased ... more than 1 million Washingtonians are already fully vaccinated,” Inslee said.

Another group of Washingtonians became eligible to receive the vaccine on March 31, including those age 60 and older, as well as those 16 and older with two or more comorbidities or underlying health conditions. The Pacific County Health and Human Services Department held a first-dose vaccination clinic inside the Ilwaco High School gymnasium on the first day of eligibility.

More first-dose clinics are also scheduled in both north and south county in the coming days, the county health department announced last week. In south county, Ocean Beach Hospital is hosting Pfizer vaccine clinics at the Ilwaco Timberland Library on April 8 and 9.

To sign up for the countywide vaccine waitlist and secure your place in line, visit https://tinyurl.com/2rjnbb4m. Those on the waitlist will be contacted by email or phone to schedule an appointment if and once they are eligible and there is adequate vaccine supply in the county.

Those signing up for the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines must commit to attending both the first and second dose clinics, and will receive an email to sign up for their second dose appointment after they sign up for their first dose. Call the county health department at 360-875-9407 for questions or if you would like help to sign up for a clinic.

As of April 3, 15,178 vaccine doses had been given in Pacific County, up from 14,552 doses a week earlier. About 24.5% of county residents have been fully vaccinated so far. Statewide, 3.72 million doses have been given, up from 3.25 million doses a week ago.

County records 11th virus death

New covid-19 cases mostly remained low in Pacific County over the past week, but the county health department reported its 11th death attributed to the virus on April 5.

Details surrounding the individual’s death had not been made available as of the Observer’s press time, but three Pacific County residents had been hospitalized due to complications caused by covid-19 over the previous week, the department reported.

The department also reported nine new cases over the past week, bringing the county’s total count to 853 cases since the pandemic began. There have been 17 new cases in the past two weeks, the time period used by the state Department of Health for upcoming metric checks. The county’s case rate per 100,000 people over the previous two weeks is 78.6, up from 60.1 a week ago.

The next metric check to determine whether Pacific County will remain in Phase 3 is set for next Monday, April 12. To remain in Phase 3 and the loosened restrictions that come with it, the county must have reported fewer than 100 new cases in the previous 14 days, as well as reported fewer than three hospitalizations over the previous 7 days.

Clatsop County reported 843 total cases as of April 5, an increase of nine cases since March 29. Statewide confirmed covid-19 cases totaled 345,904 on April 5, with 20,782 patients hospitalized and 5,285 fatalities reported since the pandemic began.

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