Editor’s note: A version of this report that includes Vashon’s latest COVID statistics can be read, in Spanish and English, at tinyurl.com/yan39zeh.
Hundreds of Vashon residents have booked appointments for Omicron bivalent booster vaccinations at upcoming high-volume community vaccination clinics in October.
A large number have also checked the box to get a seasonal flu vaccination at the same time. The first of the community vaccination clinics arrives this weekend, Oct. 1 and 2, and all appointment slots have been taken.
However, plenty of appointments are available for coming weekends and weekdays following this weekend’s launch.
To sign up, go to VashonPharmacy.com/COVID-Vaccine. If the online appointment page is closed, keep checking. The Pharmacy adds appointment times as supplies arrive, usually weekly, and includes appointments only for the number of doses on hand, so as not to disappoint anyone.
If you do not have computer access or have trouble navigating the appointment website, paper sign-up forms are available at the Pharmacy. There will be no same-day drop-in service at the vaccination site. You must make an appointment.
The weekend high-volume community clinics in October will be only for patients who are 18 or older. School-day vaccination clinics are planned for middle school students on Oct. 14, and for high school students on Oct. 21. Be on the watch for sign-up instructions that will be sent out prior to the school-day vaccination clinics.
The school-day clinics will be open to all Vashon students ages 12 and older.
The community vaccination clinics are a service of Vashon Pharmacy, in partnership with VashonBePrepared, the Vashon Emergency Operations Center, Medical Reserve Corps, Community Emergency Response Team, and Vashon Island Fire & Rescue.
The two island clinics, Sea Mar and Vashon Natural Medicine, will also be providing the Omicron boosters. You can call them for the latest info on availability at their locations.
In addition, the Omicron boosters are available on the mainland at chain drug stores such as CVS and Walgreens, as well as healthcare networks such as Kaiser and Franciscan. One helpful online source for finding mainland vaccination locations is operated by Public Health – Seattle & King County, at bit.ly/PHSKCvaxList.
In a Nutshell: a booster Q&A
VashonBePrepared has had a flood of questions about the new bivalent Omicron boosters. Here are some “in a nutshell” quick answers, and a few web resources for those who want to dive a little deeper.
Should I get the new booster, or the old booster, if I’ve never had a booster before?
For people 12 and older, the new, Omicron-targeted booster is the only authorized booster. Children ages 5-11 are currently still authorized for the original booster and children younger than 5 are currently not authorized for a booster.
What’s the deal with this new booster and why is it better?
It’s expected to be better because it specifically targets the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron, which didn’t yet exist when the original vaccines were formulated. Also, it’s called a booster for a reason. It boosts whatever level of immunity you already have.
How long should I wait to get the new Omicron booster after my last vaccination?
People 12 and older must wait at least two months after their last COVID booster or after completing their primary vaccination series. The CDC suggests waiting three months after contracting COVID.
Do I still need the booster if I had COVID this summer?
You have some immunity from your recovery from COVID, but this wanes over time. Regardless of whether or not you have had COVID, your immunity will be increased with a booster vaccination. More protection is a good thing.
Is there a “best time” to get boosted?
It takes two weeks for the vaccine to confer peak protection. So October is a good time to get the new booster, building protection before the holiday season of indoor gatherings with lots of people.
Does the booster reduce my chance of getting COVID (and spreading it to vulnerable populations) or is it only making the disease milder for me if I get COVID?
Like prior boosters, the new COVID booster is likely to provide some protection against infection that decreases over time, but we don’t yet know how good protection will be against infection or how long it will last. If we all do what we can to prevent the spread of COVID to vulnerable people, then we will be doing a good thing for Vashon. Most importantly, the vaccines have a strong track record of preventing serious disease that could put you in the hospital or kill you.
Where can I get more information?
VashonBePrepared recently ran a special Q&A edition of its newsletter with much in-depth information. You can read it at conta.cc/3L2qGw8.
Public Health — Seattle & King County also recently published a Q&A focused on the updated booster vaccine. It’s an interview with a leading pediatrician and former emergency room doctor. Read it at bit.ly/PHSKC_Updated Booster.
Is the pandemic really over?
This question comes up a lot, and never more so than now when President Biden recently tried to answer it.
He said in a broadcast interview: “The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.”
Public health scientists say epidemiologists have never set a formal benchmark for the finish line, even though everyone wishes it was over. A pandemic simply means an epidemic has spread globally across international borders. So, how can anybody reliably answer the question? Whatever name you put on it — pandemic, endemic, or epidemic — the better question might be: “When will COVID be over?”
Can we really feel comfortable declaring the pandemic over when the U.S. has averaged more than 400 deaths every day for several months, and COVID continues to be particularly hard on people in the over-50 age group? We just had a death on Vashon. Most people would agree that doesn’t sound like the time to be declaring victory.
Another concern: We are headed for our third COVID winter. Prior winters have brought a serious surge of COVID cases despite vaccinations, antivirals, home testing, and plentiful supplies of masks. Most public health experts say they believe this year will be no different.
Calling the pandemic “over” is not the same as winning the COVID battle. Please take care of our community by taking simple steps we all know will reduce risk. Wear a mask in risky situations. Test before gatherings with family and friends. Isolate when you test positive. Quarantine to avoid spread if you’ve been exposed. Take special care about exposing elders and those with health risks. Keep your vaccinations up to date.
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