Current Vaccination Eligibility: Everyone 12+
MASKING CLARIFICATION: KING COUNTY DIRECTIVE
Public Health says wear masks a bit longer: King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin has issued a directive strongly urging residents to continue wearing a face mask in indoor public settings, whether or not they are vaccinated. The directive, provided for in state law, acknowledges the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) national level guidelines released last week but takes into account King County’s local COVID-19 infection situation, a step provided for in the CDC action. Dr. Duchin’s directive asks that masking continues for a little while longer, until local case rates and hospitalizations come down further, and vaccination rates are higher. Public Health – Seattle & King County recommends that businesses that serve the public continue policies to ensure customers and employees wear masks indoors. Duchin says, “We have no way to know who is vaccinated and who isn’t, and it’s impractical for businesses to determine that.”
The CDC’s guidance said it’s okay for vaccinated people to discontinue masking in indoor spaces, but it also noted that ending indoor mask mandates should be linked to local circumstances according to local regulation. That local regulation has now come in the directive from King County Health Officer Dr. Duchin.
Governor Inslee has issued a proclamation in support of local authorities and individual businesses making their own decisions about mask usage. So, with the backing of the state and county, each Vashon business is allowed to set its own mask guidance, and customers may still be required to wear masks.
Virus statistics: Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) reports 121 positive cases of COVID-19 on Vashon since the pandemic began, an increase of three cases since the last edition of this report.
VASHON VACCINATION AVAILABILITY
The overview: Island vaccination availability continues to be strong, with a plentiful supply and a declining number of takers as more and more people complete their vaccination process. Multiple reports from health authorities around the country indicate that infection rates are dropping as more people get vaccinated. It’s working!
Pop-up vaccination clinics: The next phase of offering COVID vaccinations on Vashon will be pop-up clinics at locations around the island, taking shots to the people in a push to get vaccination rates even higher. The first one was held this week at the Vashon Food Bank. The clinics are being run by Vashon Pharmacy staff, Medical Reserve Corps and EOC volunteers.
Get your second dose — no matter where you got your first: The vaccination rate for full protection with a second dose continues to lag. Some people may believe they are required to go back to their first shot location for their second dose, but Sea Mar and the Pharmacy can readily give you your second shot, even if you got your first dose at a mainland pharmacy, medical center or vaccination site. Now that there’s plenty of vaccine on hand, it’s much easier for you to get your second shot here on the island and close to home, rather than getting on a ferry. Details on getting your second dose are included below in the sections for Vashon Pharmacy and Sea Mar.
School shots: For anyone who missed getting a shot at this week’s school vaccination clinics, it’s easy to catch up. Anyone aged 12 and up can get vaccinations now at both of the island’s active vaccination providers through the regular process. Please see the access directions below. Also, it’s important that those who got their first doses last week remember to get their second doses at the follow-up school clinics that will take place June 7 for those who received their shots last week on Monday, and June 10 for those who received their shots on Thursday. That’s how our island’s young people can get vaccination protection in place before the summer.
Vashon Pharmacy: Vaccinations continue at Vashon Pharmacy, but with a new look. From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. on any Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, walk up to the Pharmacy and look for the white tents behind the building, or a sign directing you to go inside the Pharmacy for shots. If you need to get your first dose of vaccine, the Pharmacy offers two options: you can make an appointment at VashonPharmacy.com/COVID, or you may also just drop in without an appointment at the times listed above. If you are looking to get your second dose and complete your vaccination, don’t use the online system. Keep the appointment you were given at the time of your first shot, or if you don’t have an appointment, just show up during the regular hours on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. Spanish language interpretation is available at all walk-up clinics. The mass vaccination drive-through operation that began at the Pharmacy in January has been demobilized, and the greeter station at the movie theater is no longer in operation.
Sea Mar Clinic: Sea Mar vaccinates walk-ups without appointments Monday through Friday. It’s a good idea to check availability on the Sea Mar website daily to find out what vaccine is being offered and to make sure they’ll be open: SeaMar.org/COVID-Vaccine. You may prefer to make an appointment to make sure you can get your shot, by calling the Sunrise Ridge clinic at (206) 463-3671. A Spanish-language interpreter is available for early visits beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesdays only. Second-dose patients are welcome, even if they got their first injection elsewhere.
Free: All vaccinations are free to all. If you have insurance, you’ll be asked for your information so providers can recover the cost of administering the free vaccine, but there’s no co-pay. If you do not have insurance, the cost is covered anyway and you will not be charged.
Please don’t waste doses: Let the vaccinators know if you can’t make your appointment. Sea Mar and Vashon Pharmacy explain that a missed appointment could waste precious doses of vaccine, and ask that you please notify them if you will not be coming. To cancel or reschedule at Sea Mar clinic, call (206) 463-3671. Vashon Pharmacy has an online cancellation link at VashonPharmacy.com/COVID.
Questions about vaccination: If you have questions, please call (844) 469-4554 and select option 4. That will connect you to one of the Medical Reserve Corps doctors who can respond with information. You can’t make a vaccination appointment at that number. For an appointment, follow the directions in the Sea Mar and Pharmacy sections above.
Hold that vaccine card: Your vaccination card shows proof of vaccination, the dates, and the kind you received, all information that may be useful. Going forward, you may be asked to show proof of vaccination for certain activities; for example, Europe is opening up only to vaccinated travelers in June. If booster shots are needed in the future, it will be helpful to have your card as well. Take a photo of your card and keep it in your phone, in case you lose the card or need to show it.
Multiple vaccines okay: There’s no need to wait between vaccinations for different diseases. The CDC has issued new guidelines saying that it is OK to give the COVID vaccines at the same time as, or soon before or after, vaccines such as the ones needed prior to foreign travel or school. This may be helpful if you or your child need to have other vaccinations and scheduling is an issue.
King County reaches targets on key indicators: King County has brought its case and hospitalization rates down below two key target numbers set by the state. The rate of new COVID cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days recently fell below 200. It had spiked up to a high of 460 in November and didn’t fall below the 200-mark again until the end of January. The new-case rate rose above 200 again in early April but now, with vaccinations widespread, it’s expected to stay below 200. The rate of new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents over the past seven days has followed a similar path and fell below five earlier this month.
Vaccination rate calculations change: Since the eligibility age for COVID-19 vaccination dropped from age 16 to age 12, King County has updated its vaccination data to reflect the percentage of people aged 12 and over who are partially or fully vaccinated. Consequently, Vashon’s first dose vaccination rate has dropped from 85.5% to 81.7%, when taking into account this new larger population. When data from this week’s intensive school vaccination effort reaches the Public Health dashboards, the island’s overall vaccination rate will rise.
Unvaccinated = much higher hospitalization rates: Washington Department of Health (DOH) has reported that the COVID-19 hospital admission rate for unvaccinated individuals aged 45 to 64 is about 18 times higher than rates for people in this age group who are fully vaccinated. The hospital admission rate in unvaccinated individuals 65 and older is approximately 11 times that of fully protected individuals in this age group. This difference is growing more pronounced as more people reach full vaccination status.
School District reminds about emergency internet funding: Vashon Island School District reminds everyone that the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides both temporary support for monthly internet service bills and one-time discounts for computer purchases, and not only for households with students. If your household meets one of several criteria (which are fairly broad and include people on public benefits and/or impacted by COVID income loss), you may receive up to $50/month for broadband and equipment rentals, and a discount of up to $100 on the purchase of a computer or tablet. The program will continue until it runs out of money or the COVID emergency ends. For more information, visit getemergencybroadband.org.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): Our current operational priorities are health, food security, housing security, and economic recovery, as established by the Incident Commander, Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert, and approved by the VashonBePrepared Board. Vashon’s pandemic emergency response began 14 months and ten days ago (436 days).
Vashon COVID Relief Fund: A milestone has been reached. Disbursements from the Vashon COVID Relief Fund have crested the $500,000 mark since being launched at the beginning of the activation last spring. To date, almost $501,000 has been provided to augment the work of island social service and economic recovery partners, including groceries from the Food Bank, breakfasts and lunches from the School District nutrition program, counseling and case management by Vashon Youth and Family Services, rent relief and community meals from Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness, household support by St. Vincent de Paul, advocacy support by the DOVE Project, delivered lunches by Senior Center, Farm Bucks from Vashon Island Growers Association’s Food Access Program, economic recovery work by Vashon Chamber of Commerce, and vaccinations by Vashon Pharmacy.
Economic recovery: The Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce’s economic recovery campaign includes advice and public health education for island businesses. VashonBePrepared and Medical Reserve Corps representatives conducted a webinar workshop covering the latest best practices for masking at businesses, under the new guidelines from CDC and this week’s directive by Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Medical Reserve Corps: Experts from MRC continue to provide free consultations on COVID safety with island organizations and businesses. In the last few weeks, these services have been provided to Journeymen, Vashon Center for the Arts, Vashon Repertory Theater, and the Chamber of Commerce.
EOC/MRC/CERT: Strategic planning has been underway as we respond to shifting demand for vaccination on the island in response to rising vaccination rates. Last week, CERT volunteers took down the greeter and staging area at the movie theater, ending the drive-through mass vaccination operations for this phase of the COVID response. A mobile vaccination team has been formed to take pop-up vaccination events to various community gathering places.
Incorporating lessons learned: An After-Action Review survey has been distributed to volunteers who worked on the pandemic response in the last 14 months. The survey will capture lessons that have been learned. These lessons will be applied to the new Vashon Community Emergency Operations Plan and will inform next year’s June earthquake exercise, Cascadia Rising 2022.
Acknowledgments: This week we acknowledge and thank artist Jenna Riggs for her images that made the raccoon banners such a success, including the latest: Rosie the Raccoon, showing her muscle as the community works together against the pandemic. We also thank Elaine Ott-Rocheford and her team at Vashon Park District for their generous support of the Community Resource Hub at the Village Green last spring and summer.
Volunteers: For the last full week reporting period, 37 volunteers contributed 414 hours of work to VashonBePrepared’s pandemic emergency response. That brings the total contributed hours to over 29,700 since the activation began. At the FEMA reimbursement grant rate of $31.72/hour, VashonBePrepared volunteers have run up more than $943,600 of contributed in-kind value. VashonBePrepared gives thanks to the staff and volunteers of local social services agencies for the many hours of extra work logged during the pandemic.
This information is compiled from the Situation Reports produced by the EOC Situation Section and provided to The Beachcomber to help islanders stay informed and safe. To receive reports and other emergency information emails, go to VoiceofVashon.org/alertsignup.