Marysville firefighters Chris Burnette (left) and Chris Lytle were part of the crew vaccinating people at Arlington Municipal Airport on Wednesday. The Marysville Fire District is part of the Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Marysville firefighters Chris Burnette (left) and Chris Lytle were part of the crew vaccinating people at Arlington Municipal Airport on Wednesday. The Marysville Fire District is part of the Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

COVID hospitalizations on the rise in Snohomish County

Health experts are pleading with people to continue to mask up as the race to vaccinate continues.

EVERETT — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations from the virus are on the rise in Snohomish County.

With universal vaccine eligibility weeks away, public health officials are pleading with residents to mask up and social distance for a little bit longer.

“We’re going back in the wrong direction again, but we have an opportunity to turn it around ourselves before a retreat in recovery is forced upon us,” Dr. Chris Spitters, the county’s top public doctor, said in a news release. “We need you to act now to protect people’s health and keep us in Phase 3. Please celebrate wisely and make safe decisions, especially with upcoming holidays and spring breaks from school.”

On Monday, county hospitals were treating 15 COVID patients. By Friday, that number was 26.

Meanwhile, the two-week case rate jumped this week to 92 new infections per 100,000 residents, up from 72 a week go.

As virus transmission rises, vaccine providers are rushing to administer shots as fast as they can.

So far, 20% of people 16 and older in the county are fully vaccinated, according to Snohomish Health District data. Another 90,000 are waiting for a second dose.

Seniors seeking an appointment can reach the county’s call center and schedule an appointment at 425-339-5278.

Officials are urging now-eligible folks to schedule their shots before April 15, when everyone can get in line for a dose.

“If you log in on a Sunday and there are no appointments, log back in on Monday,” deputy state health secretary Lacey Fehrenbach said during a Thursday news briefing. “Appointments get added by different providers in your community throughout the week in real time on the vaccine locator.”

Early data show that fully vaccinated people are not only protected from severe illness due to COVID, it also helps prevent them from spreading the virus, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It takes two weeks after your final shot to be considered fully vaccinated.

Even so, health officials are still worried about how vaccines will protect people from emerging virus variants.

And in Snohomish County, there have been 10 cases of people catching COVID after they’ve been fully vaccinated. None of the 10 have been hospitalized or died.

“Vaccine breakthrough cases can and do occur with virtually all vaccines, given that few are 100% effective,” Spitters said. “The number of vaccine breakthrough cases in Snohomish County remains exceptionally low. This demonstrates just how effective the vaccines are, but it also highlights the importance of continuing to wear masks and watch your distance around people you don’t live with.”

Since Feb. 1, eight vaccinated people have been hospitalized statewide.

The state is also investigating two potential vaccine breakthrough cases in which the patients died. Both patients were more than 80 years old and suffered from underlying health issues, the health district said.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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