Current Vaccination Priority Groups are 1a, 1b1, 1b2
Virus Statistics: Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) reports 108 positive cases of COVID-19 on Vashon since the pandemic began. That case count means there has been no increase since last week’s edition. Three Vashon residents have died from COVID-19 related illnesses. Four have been hospitalized since pandemic record-keeping began, an increase of one since last week’s edition.
VASHON VACCINATION AVAILABILITY
The overview: Although vaccine eligibility in WA widened this week, both of the active vaccination locations on the island say they will not receive any new vaccine shipments. Thus, there will be no appointments in the coming week for new first-dose patients.
Going off-island for jabs: Since Vashon did not receive new vaccine shipments this week, newly eligible patients may want to seek off-island alternatives. A number of 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
Each of these sources lists some potential vaccination locations within a few miles of the mainland ferry docks. Check these websites frequently and refresh your browser to find the most convenient location for you, until the Vashon sites are back in action. Also, keep in mind that your mainland healthcare provider may also be a resource (CHI Franciscan, Multicare, Kaiser, etc.). And all veterans enrolled in the Veterans Administration system are eligible at VA facilities.
When will you be eligible? Vaccination eligibility for Washington State currently includes those in tiers 1a, 1b1, and 1b2, including pre-K to grade 12 educators and staff, as well as licensed daycare workers. Vaccine tier 1b2 eligibility began for all of Washington State on March 17. Eligibility opens up for tiers 1b3 and 1b4 on March 31.
Overall vaccination progress: One reason Vashon is not receiving new vaccine shipments is the success rate the island has achieved in vaccinating our seniors. According to the data dashboard published by Public Health — Seattle and King County (PHSKC), Vashon has a better vaccination rate than any other region of the county. The PHSKC dashboard shows the general population on Vashon, aged 16+, is at a 43% vaccination level. The PHSKC statistics show the first dose vaccination rate of the island’s seniors, aged 65+, has reached nearly 112%. It is not logically possible to vaccinate more than 100% of the island’s seniors, but the high figure serves to show that senior vaccination has reached saturation on Vashon.
Sea Mar at Sunrise Ridge: Sea Mar currently does not expect to receive any vaccine allocated for first doses and thus will not be able to hold any public vaccination clinic this coming week. Sea Mar will be keeping commitments for second doses of both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
Vashon Pharmacy: For the third week, the Pharmacy’s request for vaccines was denied by the state Department of Health (DOH). The state’s allocations are going to areas that have not yet been as successful as Vashon in vaccinating the target populations.
New positive case at school district: Testing and contact tracing have been completed for a new positive COVID-19 case at the school district office. The district has determined that the positive case was not a result of any school program or activity. The patient who tested positive is isolating at home, and several potentially exposed people were tested. All the potential contacts have tested negative. However, a few of the potential contacts remain in quarantine, in accordance with the district’s protocols and guidelines from the state Department of Health.
More vaccine coming to state: The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shared Thursday that nearly double the current weekly allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses is expected within the next month.
Worry on the horizon: State COVID-19 data show that case counts increased slightly in western Washington. Case counts are already still relatively high across the state—around the same level seen last October when the third wave of disease activity was ramping up. In particular, cases are increasing among younger adults aged 20 to 39. In the past, that has been an early warning sign of larger surges in the general population.
Sniffles: test, test, test to stop the pandemic: “It’s crucial that anyone who has a cough or sniffles, or other flu-type symptoms call our hotline to be screened and scheduled for a test,” urged Dr. Jim Bristow, Medical Reserve Corps lead for the island testing and tracing operation. The MRC experts gleaned some important lessons from analyzing one recent case. They are issuing a reminder to everyone that a vaccination does not provide full protection until two weeks after the second dose. It is entirely possible for someone to get their shot and get COVID, although the vaccination does provide some additional protection against serious illness. “That’s one reason we always remind people to mask, distance, and hand wash even after getting your shots. In one case, the patient assumed their respiratory symptoms were just a reaction from the vaccination, but they got tested and sure enough, they had COVID-19,” Dr. Bristow emphasized. “Please get screened by calling MRC at (844) 469-4554.”
Maybe coming: Three-Feet Distance for School: The CDC changed guidance, relaxing its six-foot distancing rule for elementary school students, but the guidance has not yet been adopted locally. CDC now says kids need only keep three feet apart in classrooms, as long as everyone is wearing a mask. Locally, at Vashon Island School District, Superintendent Slade McSheehy said “Washington DOH is reviewing the guidance and at this immediate time, there is no change to the current 6’ guidance.”
A tax filing reprieve: The Internal Revenue Service has postponed the tax-filing deadline until May 17, as the agency grapples with a mounting backlog of 24 million returns awaiting processing since the 2019 tax year. The effects of the IRS backlog already have been substantial: The delays have kept some Americans from receiving their tax refunds for months while preventing some cash-strapped workers and companies nationwide from taking advantage of some of the stimulus benefits that Congress authorized to blunt the economic impact of the pandemic. For assistance with unemployment or tax issues, contact email@example.com or call (206) 200-3236.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): In response to the pandemic emergency, the EOC and other elements of our island emergency response coalition were activated more than one year ago (379 days), March 12, 2020. Our four operational priorities were put in place shortly after activation, established by the Incident Commander, Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert, and approved by the VashonBePrepared Board. Those priorities continue to be health, food security, housing security and economic recovery.
Vaccination operations: The drive-through vaccination site at Vashon Pharmacy will not operate this coming week. As reported above, the state Department of Health denied the Pharmacy’s allocation request and will not be sending the vaccine. The EOC Team has shifted to making sure we provide information on mainland sources of vaccination.
Stimulus/rescue: Work continues on plans to help local businesses, individuals and nonprofits take advantage of the new stimulus plan signed into law by President Biden last week. The plans will likely rely on public information and education support, working through our network of partners.
Gratitude project: The Gratitude Project, a community thank you note campaign, has now been launched with the commemorative advertisement in last week’s Beachcomber. You can request packets of free thank you cards to send to your neighbors volunteering in the pandemic response effort. For details, see the ad or go to VashonBePrepared.org/GratitudeProject.
Volunteers: Hours contributed by volunteers in the VashonBePrepared coalition continue to run at a high level. For the most recent reporting period, 49 volunteers contributed 584 hours of work to VashonBePrepared’s pandemic emergency response. That brings the total contributed hours to nearly 25,300 since the activation began. At the FEMA reimbursement grant rate of $31.72/hour, VashonBePrepared volunteers have logged more than $801,000 of in-kind value available to be applied to the 25% match requirement for reimbursement grants. VashonBePrepared gives thanks as well for the many hours of extra work logged during the pandemic in support of the Vashon community, by the staff and volunteers at local social services agencies.
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.