Last week, VashonBePrepared reported in an email to community members that Vashon had recorded its first known “breakthrough” case of a fully vaccinated islander contracting COVID.
Along with that troubling news came more — that Vashon’s case count had jumped by four cases over the course of two weeks, including the breakthrough case, to now total 125 cases since the pandemic began a year ago.
Vashon’s infection rate still remains about one-third of the county as a whole, but King County cases are also on the rise — with a seven-day average of 134 cases recorded on July 16.
Dr. Zach Miller, an infectious disease expert and leader of the contact tracing team for the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps, addressed the troubling trend line as it pertained to Vashon.
“We may feel we are done with COVID, but COVID isn’t done with us,” said Miller. “We still have COVID on Vashon. About 10% of our population aged 12 or more is unvaccinated, and that’s not counting all the younger kids who are not eligible to get the vaccine.”
Miller said he expects to see more breakthrough cases on Vashon, given that COVID-19 vaccines are about 90% effective at preventing disease for fully vaccinated people — leaving another 10% of Vashon residents who are at risk of catching the disease, even though they are vaccinated.
“So, even though the vaccines are almost 100% effective at preventing serious disease and hospitalization, you can still get sick, pass the disease on to others, and potentially face long haul effects from COVID,” Miller said — adding that by combining these factors, more than 2,000 Vashon residents are still at risk. That number accounts for about 20% of the local population.
The Medical Reserve Corps recommends key steps for islanders to protect themselves and the community from the virus — beginning with being fully vaccinated with two doses of vaccine. Those who have gotten only one shot should complete the course to get full protection, they said.
Likewise, the doctors said that anyone with symptoms should get tested immediately and quarantine themselves so as not to spread the disease.
Islanders should listen to their gut if they are going into a situation where they might be exposed to people they don’t know, they said, noting it is still possible and a matter of choice to mask and distance.
Islanders should also be extra careful if they travel, even for essential purposes, the doctors said, as most Vashon cases continue to be related to travel outside our area.
Finally, those who test positive or believe they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive are urged to contact the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps hotline at (844) 469-4554.