Experts urge caution as variant emerges during holiday season

VashonBePrepared estimates more than half of Vashon’s 5 to 11-year-olds have their first COVID shots.

Editor’s Note: The following is an updated version of a COVID update from VashonBePrepared, sent by email to community members on Friday, Nov. 26. The original email is available to read in Spanish and English, at

Monitoring the Omicron Variant

Vashon Emergency Operations Center and the experts from the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps have been tracking statements from the CDC and other health organizations regarding the newly identified Omicron variant of concern that was first seen in southern Africa. The variant has since been identified in multiple countries around the world although, as this goes to press, it has not yet been identified in the United States. There is much speculation in the media about the situation but it will be a few weeks before scientists can answer some of the risk questions about the new variant. Next week’s newsletter will have more information. In the meantime, scientists have been urging extra care be taken with COVID safety measures as we continue through the holiday travel period.

Vaccination Success: More Than Half of Vashon’s 5 to 11-Year-Olds Get First Shots

VashonBePrepared estimates that more than half of the island’s 5 to 11-year-olds have their first vaccination shots. The milestone was achieved after just three weeks of the Vashon Pharmacy/VashonBePrepared school vaccination campaign.

The official dashboard of Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC) says 40.3% of island 5 to 11-year-olds have received their first shots. However, we have compiled additional known vaccination totals and it is clear the number has shot over the 50% level. All those vaccinated in the school campaign have already been scheduled for their second shots at school clinics over the next two weeks. The school vaccinations are a collaborative effort between Vashon Pharmacy and Vashon Island School District with the support of VashonBePrepared volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

On-Island COVID Vaccination Availability

Island healthcare providers have ramped up to provide booster vaccinations for anyone 18 years or older, after booster eligibility was broadened nationwide last week. Generally, boosters were already being given with few restrictions in this region before the announcement, but the decision by the FDA and CDC cleared up some confusion about who could get the shot. Now that eligibility for all adults is clear, island providers are receiving many appointment requests.

• The Vashon Pharmacy appointment website offers primary vaccinations and boosters at this time. Location directions will be given at the time of making an appointment, either the Pharmacy or the mass booster clinic at the Methodist Church. The Pharmacy will begin offering pediatric dose vaccinations the week of December 11th. The Pharmacy’s web page to make an appointment is at:

• Sea Mar clinic offers vaccinations to all, by appointment only. Sea Mar will do primary, booster, and pediatric vaccinations. However, vaccine supply and staffing limitations mean the clinic does not provide all types of vaccine every day. Before going to the clinic, be sure to call ahead and make an appointment at (206) 463-3671.

• Vashon Natural Medicine offers vaccinations by appointment only for existing patients. They have not yet started providing pediatric vaccinations but will do so as soon as the clinic is allocated supplies.

Help Prevent a Flu/COVID “Twindemic”

The CDC reports that this flu season has started out a bit like seasons prior to the pandemic. Last year, the flu season was minimal, probably because people were taking basic precautions such as masking and avoiding social situations. But this year, early statistics suggest the possibility of a normal level of flu cases. Pockets of flu have been detected in Michigan, Florida, and New Mexico, among others.

Here’s the problem: Having both flu and COVID could put you in the hospital or even kill you. The combination of the two amps up the risk. That’s why doctors are recommending that everyone get their flu shot this year. The CDC has determined that flu shots may be safely administered at the same time as COVID vaccinations.

Vashon Center for the Arts Re-Opens

Vashon Center for the Arts (VCA) has completed a partial safety closure. The original patient has been cleared to return to work by the Medical Reserve Corps contact tracing team. In addition, the 18 staff members considered to be close contacts from group staff meetings are nearly through with their second round of testing and are coming out of quarantine. That means essential staff are available to work and that will allow VCA to reopen the facility. No patrons were considered exposed, based on the contact tracing investigation conducted by the Medical Reserve Corps. VCA has a 100% vaccination-required policy for staff but, unfortunately, the vaccine is not 100% effective at preventing infections, although it is highly effective at preventing hospitalizations.

Learn to Manage Pandemic Anger: Theirs and Yours

Anger management skills can help you get through these polarized, pandemic-charged times. Vashon’s Community Care Team has opened sign-ups for an online training to help. The training is free and will take place on at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. You must pre-register at

“This training is for anyone who wants to learn how to channel their emotions and tensions into opportunity, or at least minimize chances of a challenging situation turning into a bad outcome,” said trainer Wren Hudgins, Ph.D. “You will learn how to deal with an angry person, even if it’s yourself.” Hudgins volunteers as a member of the Vashon Community Care Team, a unit of Vashon Medical Reserve Corps and VashonBePrepared. He also works as a supervisor in disaster mental health for the American Red Cross, and serves on the Behavioral Health Strike Team for the state Department of Health.

Vashon Community COVID Statistics

239 = Total COVID cases for Vashon residents since the pandemic began.

122 = New cases since early July, when the Delta variant hit Vashon.

7 = Patients hospitalized since the pandemic began.

4 = Deaths since the pandemic began.

90.9% = Vashon residents (aged 12+) fully vaccinated (compared to 84.5% for King County 12+ population as a whole).

For King County, the PHSKC statistic dashboard says unvaccinated people are 7 times more likely to get COVID; 38 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID and 24 times more likely to die of COVID.

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