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Health officials in Pierce County hope vaccinations increase with return to Phase 3

Authorities are working to encourage residents to get vaccinated to safeguard the community from COVID-19 as restrictions loosen.

TACOMA, Wash. — All of Washington is under Phase 3 of the state’s Roadmap to Recovery plan to combat COVID-19.

The shift was announced last week when Governor Jay Inslee stated that all counties in the state would be in Phase 3, and that Washington is on track to fully reopen by the end of June.

But Pierce County’s high case numbers have some concerned that loosening restrictions may reverse the county’s current downward trend.

“It’s always a worry that anytime restrictions are lifted, that we’ll see a rise in case rates,” said Nigel Turner, division director of Communicable Disease Control for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “We’ve seen this before in the past, in previous waves of the pandemic in Pierce County. That’s why it’s so important to recognize and reinforce with people the importance of the preventative measures we need to keep in place to control the pandemic.”

Now that Washington is moving toward a vaccination-centered approach, Pierce County leaders are stepping on the gas to get vaccines out for the sake of the community.

“Our hope is that people will continue to get vaccinated because it’s important that we keep our community safe and us as individuals safe,” said Mike Halliday of Pierce County Emergency Management. “We’re doing more outreach with our partners to see what interests they have in coming to their sites and having vaccination events. As we hear from new partners that want to work with us and do vaccination events, we’re heading out there as well.”

Health officials are also reaching out to community leaders to encourage as many people as possible to get vaccinated.

“We’re working with our businesses, Executive Bruce Dammier has convened a task force of business leaders with the goal of increasing vaccination in the community. We’re working with our schools to provide clinics and connect them to pharmacies and opportunities to vaccinate their populations,” Turner said. “Basically, we find out what the barriers are and work day and night to address those, and get people the vaccine they very much need.”

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