Current Vaccination Eligibility: Everyone 16+
Virus statistics: Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) reports 113 positive cases of COVID-19 on Vashon since the pandemic began, a reduction by one case since the last edition, as PHSKC works to verify its database. Three Vashon residents have died from COVID-19 related illnesses.
Youth soccer quarantine: Nine middle school-aged youths are in quarantine this week due to a potential COVID-19 exposure at an off-island soccer game. They are all members of a private youth soccer league and the exposure was not at a school event. Eight of the nine are students at McMurray Middle School and the ninth participates in McMurray sports. All nine have been tested but none of the tests have come back positive. The contact tracing investigation has been conducted by Vashon Medical Reserve Corps physicians in cooperation with the school district nurse. The decision to quarantine from school activities was reached in discussions between MRC, the school nurse, and Public Health — Seattle & King County.
VIFR exposures: Vashon Island Fire & Rescue is dealing with two COVID-19 situations.
- There was a concern that nine first responders may have been exposed to COVID-19 when they were called to a serious auto accident in the Quartermaster area of the island. One of the vehicle occupants tested positive so an exposure investigation has been conducted. Fortunately, it appears that the nine responders escaped exposure due to a combination of proper use of PPE and vaccination. All nine will be complying with follow-up monitoring and testing protocols.
- In an unrelated situation, one off-duty firefighter has reported to the fire district that they have tested positive for COVID-19. The firefighter will continue in quarantine with a testing regimen in compliance with fire district safety protocols. A workplace investigation concluded that there was no exposure at VIFR.
VASHON VACCINATION AVAILABILITY
The overview: Despite some challenges, vaccination has been available most days this week from at least one of the island’s two active vaccination providers, with at least 1,000 first doses of vaccine available, in addition to a vaccine to cover the necessary second dose requirements. Vaccination eligibility extended last week to everyone age 16 years or older, but patience will be required until vaccine supplies begin flowing more consistently. This could be a particular challenge going forward, now that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been put on hold and those expected additional supplies will not be coming to the state.
Vashon Pharmacy: The drive-through site at press time was planning on operating four days this week with the Pfizer vaccine, meaning vaccinations will be available for anyone 16 years old and over, as Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for people ages 16 and 17. At one point it looked as if the pharmacy would be without new first dose supplies this week after the state Department of Health denied the Pharmacy’s request. However, the so-called “direct to pharmacy” program through the store’s regular prescription drug supplier has come through.
It is important to note that first dose allocations are being denied by the state Department of Health because Vashon Island is the most vaccinated of all the areas in King County. More than two-thirds of Vashon residents aged 16 or older have been vaccinated, according to the county data dashboard. That is ten points better than the second-place community area. Other areas are more than 20 points below Vashon’s vaccination level. On general principles, in an emergency, resources are allocated to areas where they are most needed. For example, south King County communities such as Auburn, Kent, and Federal Way are only at 43% vaccinated.
Sea Mar: The Sunrise Ridge clinic was hoping to continue its pace of daily walk-up vaccination clinics, no appointment required. However, the clinic did not have a sense of availability for the week as this edition was going to press. Check day-to-day availability at seamar.org/covid-vaccine. Sea Mar has set aside vaccines for all currently booked second-dose appointments. Sea Mar asks that you not show up any earlier than 6 a.m. Arriving patients are registered and given a place in line for the day. To avoid long outdoor wait times, when patients are registered, they are given a time to come back, or they are asked to wait in their cars until they receive a phone call to come into the clinic to have their vaccine administered.
High school vaccination days coming: Plans are underway to hold vaccination days at the high school for current VISD students. Pre-registration will be required to make the injection days go smoothly, and to get the necessary parental consent for 16- and 17-year-olds. Vashon Pharmacy will supply the vaccine, and their staff and the Medical Reserve Corps will supply the vaccinators and post-shot observers, working closely with the school nursing staff. The high school students will still have the option of going to one of the many other resources listed elsewhere in this report.
Safety steps for 21 and under: A protocol has been established at the Vashon Pharmacy drive-through site to maintain safety when young people are being vaccinated. People 21 years and younger are more prone to fainting than other age groups, so the normal drive-through process was modified to not allow them to be in the driver’s seat after vaccination. Keep in mind that 16- and 17-year-olds must have parental consent. All those 21 and under who drive themselves will not be vaccinated in their cars but will be seated in a designated area for their vaccination. If they are in a car with a driver, they can be vaccinated in the passenger seat.
On-island vaccination resources: The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) recommends that you check the following four websites to check updated information about local vaccination opportunities.
The City of Seattle is running three mass vaccination sites, including one 1.5 miles from the Fauntleroy dock. A number of other sites within driving distance are making appointments in King, Pierce and Kitsap counties. Here are some websites to check for vaccination opportunities:
- Vaccinate WA — vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov
- WA COVID Vaccine Finder — covidwa.com
- City of Seattle Vaccination Notification List — bit.ly/VaxNotificationList
Check these websites frequently and refresh your browser to find the most convenient location for you. Also, keep in mind that your mainland healthcare provider may be a vaccination resource (CHI Franciscan, Multicare, Kaiser, etc.). And all patients enrolled in the Veterans Administration system are eligible at VA facilities.
Vaccine breakthrough unpacked: The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is reporting a total of 217 COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases among 1.7 million fully vaccinated individuals in Washington State. Vaccine breakthrough occurs when a person tests positive for COVID-19 two weeks or more after receiving the full course of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Large-scale clinical studies found that COVID-19 vaccines prevented most people from getting COVID-19 illnesses. However, the vaccines are not 100% effective. This means a very small number of fully vaccinated people will still get sick with COVID-19; these cases are mostly mild. Scientists note that breakthroughs are expected with any vaccine. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, none of the approved vaccines are more than 95% effective, leaving room for breakthroughs even for fully vaccinated people. “Finding evidence of vaccine breakthrough cases reminds us that, even if you have been vaccinated, you still need to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others who have not been vaccinated,” said Dr. Umair A. Shah, Secretary of Health.
Don’t get faked out: The Justice Department warns about fake post-vaccine survey scams. Consumers are receiving requests via email and text message to take a bogus COVID-19 survey, promising cash or free gift – such as an iPad Pro – for doing it. In reality, the survey is designed to steal your personal information in order to commit identity theft, the Justice Department said.
Run the wayback machine to see the MRC panel: If you missed the streaming conversation “The Vashon Model: A Community-based Response to COVID”, it is now posted on the Vashon Heritage Museum’s website. The discussion between doctors James Bristow, Ina Opplinger, Clayton Olney, and Jinna Risdal from the Vashon Medical Reserve Corps, all of whom are key players in Vashon’s nationally recognized response to the COVID pandemic, can be viewed at tinyurl.com/2dsm6duc.
No state school test this year: State Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Chris Reykdal, has announced students will not take the Smarter Balanced Assessments or the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science this spring. OSPI will continue to use locally determined assessments that his department believes are more informative and actionable measures of student learning, as school districts prepare for the next school year and beyond.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): Four operational priorities — health, food security, housing security, and economic recovery — were put in place for Vashon’s pandemic emergency response shortly after our activation over 58 weeks ago. The four priorities were established by the Incident Commander Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert and approved by the VashonBePrepared Board.
School district/EOC/MRC: Work continued this week in two areas of support for Vashon Island School District.
As noted above, the district superintendent has agreed to proceed with plans for COVID-19 vaccinations to be offered at the high school for 16-, 17- and 18-year-old VISD students. This initiative will provide rapid, highly efficient vaccination for an estimated 200 people by the MRC, CERT and Vashon Pharmacy program, rather than having the patients come one-by-one to the drive-through vaccination site.
MRC has connected the school district with a state-sponsored COVID-19 surveillance testing pilot program involving the laboratory that provides services for the MRC testing site. The test protocol utilizes pooled testing as an efficient way to test large numbers of people with less logistical effort than one-by-one testing. Pooled testing in this case would sample groups of 20 patients for one lab analysis. If one of the pooled samples shows an infection, then each of the 20 patients in that group would have their samples individually tested. The technique has been shown to be very effective for use in large groups of people, such as school settings, where surveillance can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Vax Access: The focus continues on making vaccinations accessible to those who face significant barriers to access. A round of vaccinations has been provided to homebound individuals, and there has been significant success in reaching Spanish-speakers who need assistance. Spanish language interpretation is being provided on days when Latinx patients have been concentrated in the drive-through site appointment system.
Vashon COVID Relief Fund: April disbursements are in the final stages for funding to island nonprofit organizations that partner with VashonBePrepared to provide pandemic-related assistance for food security, housing security, social services, and economic recovery. The disbursements, to be finalized next week, will total about $45,000 this month. The Relief Fund grew out of public donations, which have been replenished by federal reimbursements arranged with support from Vashon Island Fire and Rescue, King County Office of Emergency Management, and Washington Emergency Management Division. This will be the 15th round of funding since the Relief Fund was established, soon after the pandemic emergency was declared on Vashon.
Economic recovery: The VashonBePrepared Executive Committee signed off this week on Relief Fund support for the new Chamber of Commerce economic recovery program called This Is Vashon. The multi-dimensional program includes centralized marketing of island businesses through a business directory and website, along with webinars and other consultation support to help island businesses in areas such as advertising, COVID safety, licensing and permitting, business strategy, and business law.
Acknowledgments: VashonBePrepared gives special thanks to two businesses who have been essential to our emergency response during the pandemic. The island’s two hardware and building materials supply stores have been essential partners for both of our outdoor operations — the testing site and the drive-through vaccination site. So, thanks to Doug Snyder at Ace Hardware Service Center for help with tent rentals, and thanks to Steve Snyder at Island Home Center and Lumber, for help sourcing the many materials needed.
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.