Current Vaccination Eligibility: Everyone 16+
No rollback, we stay at Phase 3: Governor Inslee announced this week that King County will stay at Phase 3 reopening status and will not be required to roll back to Phase 2 restrictions. That means Vashon restaurants, along with other businesses and nonprofits, can stay open at 50% capacity limits and will not need to cut back to 25%. Although King County’s case count and hospitalization metrics have been increasing sharply in recent weeks, performance indicators on the Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) data dashboard stayed short of the red line that would have triggered a rollback. On the decision deadline date, Monday, April 12, King County averaged 195 cases per 100,000 population averaged over 14 days, just five points below the red line mark of 200. New COVID hospitalizations were at 3.7 per 100,000, well below the red line mark of five. The Governor’s announcement did roll three counties back to Phase 2: Pierce, Cowlitz, and Whitman.
Virus statistics: Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) reports 114 positive cases of COVID-19 on Vashon since the pandemic began, an increase of five cases since the last edition. Three Vashon residents have died from COVID-19 related illnesses.
VASHON VACCINATION AVAILABILITY
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine on Hold: Vaccinations continued this week at the Vashon Pharmacy drive-through site, despite a decision by CDC and FDA to pause administration of the J&J vaccine nationwide. The precautionary step was taken because six cases were identified with a severe type of blood clot. Nearly seven million J&J vaccinations have taken place in the U.S. so the potential side effect was described by officials as extremely rare. Fewer than 20 people on Vashon have received the J&J vaccine at the drive-through site and the roughly six dozen people schedule for vaccination were offered Moderna as a replacement so their vaccinations could go ahead. They were automatically booked for the necessary second dose appointments.
Patience required: The week has seen a major increase in demand for vaccinations, as everyone 16 years or older became eligible on Thursday, April 15. As we look forward, it’s important to bear in mind that vaccine eligibility does not equal vaccine supply, and demand will probably exceed the available doses for at least several more weeks. In fact, notice has come from Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC) that less than half of first-dose requests are being filled in our region. Despite that disheartening news, both of the island’s active vaccination providers were planning to offer a moderate number of first doses this week.
Sea Mar: The Sunrise Ridge clinic held walk-up vaccination clinics every day last week and the clinic was optimistic about being able to continue at that pace this week. Concern continues about the PHSKC notice that deliveries will fall short of the requested amounts around the region. Check for the latest vaccination availability at SeaMar.org/covid-vaccine
Vashon Pharmacy: Vaccinations have been available on multiple days this week for those needing their first doses. The request for a fresh shipment of first doses for this week was denied by the state Department of Health, but the Pharmacy has been able to stretch existing stock to keep vaccinations going.
Young people: A protocol has been established to maintain safety at the Vashon Pharmacy drive-through vaccination site when young people are being vaccinated. People 21 years and younger are more prone to fainting, so the normal drive-through process has been modified for them so they are not at the steering wheel when fainting risk is greatest. In addition, next week will be the first time that large numbers of young people are eligible for vaccination, as indicated above. At the Vashon Pharmacy drive-through site:
- 16- and 17-year-olds must have parental consent and be driven to the site in order to go through the drive-through line.
- 18- through 21-year-olds do not need consent or a driver, but if they arrive driving solo, they will be vaccinated in a designated seating area, not in the drive-through line.
It’s important to note that Pfizer-BioNTech is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for people 16 and 17 years of age.
Vax access: To date, the Vax Access program has reached approximately 350 people who are seeking vaccinations but face significant barriers to access. The program promotes access equity for people dealing with various barriers to care, such as mobility challenges and other disabilities; lack of a computer, internet, or computer skills; low English language skills; and people experiencing homelessness.
- Vax Access has done well reaching Vashon seniors — only a trickle of Vax Access requests are coming in now for people aged 65+.
- A major push to reach Vashon’s Latinx population has scheduled or achieved vaccination for about 100 people so far.
- Weekly fieldwork has been steadily reaching more of those experiencing homelessness on Vashon.
- A mobile vaccination operation will go to homes next week for about half a dozen island residents who are unable to go to a vaccination location.
Local availability check: The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) recommends that you check the following four websites to see if there is updated information about local vaccination opportunities.
Off-island availability check: City of Seattle sites — including one that is 1.5 miles from the Fauntleroy dock — have started taking advance appointment reservations for people aged 16 and older who become eligible on Thursday, April 15. A number of other sites within driving distance are accepting appointments in King, Pierce and Kitsap counties. Here are some websites to check for off-island vaccination opportunities:
- Vaccinate WA: vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov
- WA COVID Vaccine Finder: covidwa.com.
- City of Seattle Vaccination Notification List: bit.ly/VaxNotificationList
- Your mainland healthcare provider may be a vaccination resource (CHI Franciscan, Multicare, Kaiser, etc.).
- All patients enrolled in the Veterans Administration system are eligible at VA facilities.
Patty’s Place closed: Patty’s Place restaurant has voluntarily closed for two weeks as a COVID-19 safety measure after a staff member tested positive. The closure could be a significant financial drain on the family-owned and operated business. However, owner Patty Freebourn decided to close to help protect the community. VashonBePrepared thanks her for this community-minded step. Patty and the MRC have issued an appeal for customers from this past week to call the MRC phone number to get screened in case they need testing. “We need to help everyone stay safe and we love our customers. Those two things will get us through this. Safety is number one,” said Freebourn. “We are working with the Medical Reserve Corps to help with the contact tracing. Please, everyone, get vaccinated. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Maintain social distancing. Thank you for joining us in this safety effort and we can’t wait to open again.” Please call the Medical Reserve Corps if you dined inside the restaurant Monday through Thursday midday, April 5 through 8. The Medical Reserve Corps number is: (844) 469-4554. There’s no need to call if you simply picked up a take-out order. Callers will be screened to see if they require testing.
Casa Bonita opened: The Casa Bonita quarantine period has been completed and the restaurant reopened this week. Negative COVID-19 tests came back for all of the staff and all of the other potentially exposed people identified during the Medical Reserve Corps contact tracing.
About safe travel: CDC has updated guidance for domestic and international travel, and Gov. Inslee has confirmed these are the travel guidelines for Washingtonians. The most important recommendation is for you to limit non-essential travel to reduce the spread of COVID-19, even if vaccinated.
Don’t touch? CDC has updated its surface-cleaning guidelines, saying that the risk of contracting the virus from touching a contaminated surface is less than 1 in 10,000. “People can be infected with the virus that causes Covid-19 through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the C.D.C. “However, evidence has demonstrated that the risk by this route of infection of transmission is actually low.” Joseph Allen, a building safety expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, noted that catching the virus from surfaces remains theoretically possible. “But, it requires many things to go wrong: a lot of fresh, infectious viral particles to be deposited on a surface, and then for a relatively large quantity of them to be quickly transferred to someone’s hand and then to their face.”
Don’t wait to file: Even though the tax filing deadline has been moved to May 17, tax experts are saying you should not procrastinate. If you need assistance filing, there are two free options available on Vashon. You can call or text Deborah Diamond, (206) 200-3236, to set up an appointment to prepare your 2020 tax return by phone. The second option is to set up a socially distanced appointment with an AARP Tax Aide at the Vashon Lutheran Church. This assistance is provided on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons through May 6, 2021. Contact Jim Hauser at (206) 463-5117 to set up an AARP appointment.
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 more than 56 weeks ago. The four priorities were established by the Incident Commander Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert, and approved by the VashonBePrepared Board.
Vax Access: As described above, the Vax Access team has been moving into three new areas of need — housebound individuals who can’t come to the vaccination site, Spanish speakers whose English is not sufficient for using the online signup process, and those experiencing homelessness. The previous focus on seniors with health equity access challenges has largely been completed. The intensive Vax Access effort has signed up hundreds of people who otherwise might not get vaccinated.
EOC: The ever-changing availability of vaccines and the rising level of the disease have required the EOC to track these factors in real-time and work with Vashon Pharmacy, MRC and CERT on information sharing and facilitation of plan adjustments. Another planning element has been the opening of vaccination eligibility this week to everyone 16 years of age and older.
School district: Work continues on several fronts in support of the School District. There are some early signs that it may be possible to hold a special vaccination day at the high school. Another possibility is mass testing using pooling technology. And the EOC has made a commitment to providing support for a program of COVID safety monitoring on school buses.
Acknowledgments: This week we give special thanks to three businesses who have been essential to our emergency response, even while the economic consequences of the pandemic struck them very hard. The vaccination drive-through project would be impossible without their generous support. Vashon Print & Design has provided prompt skilled service and helpful prices on the repeat orders for patient vaccination handouts, and acted as ambassadors by providing information to folks who stopped at the counter in the back of their shop with questions about vaccines. Vashon Island Queen cheerfully offered the use of their restroom to volunteers staffing the vaccination drive-through and gave coffee to volunteers on very chilly days. Vashon Theatre permitted the vaccination project to take over most of their parking lot, even working around the vaccination drive-through project’s schedule while they put up a new fence and planned other changes.
Volunteers: For the last full week reporting period, 46 volunteers contributed 545 hours of work to VashonBePrepared’s pandemic emergency response. That brings the total contributed hours to almost 27,100 since the activation began. At the FEMA reimbursement grant rate of $31.72/hour, VashonBePrepared volunteers have logged more than $859,000 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.