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, with no change since the last edition.
New youth soccer quarantine: 12 Vashon High School students are in 14-day quarantine, due to a potential COVID-19 exposure at a junior varsity soccer game that took place on Vashon on Tuesday, April 20. The quarantined students were potentially exposed to a student on the opposing team who tested positive for COVID-19. “This is the third recent school sports-related event in four weeks,” said Dr. Zach Miller, the infectious disease expert who leads contact tracing investigations on the Medical Reserve Corps team. “We see this happening all over the country, and the problem is often actually on the sidelines, or on the way to a competition, or some other related event. We are learning the infections are spreading around school athletic events because of things like sideline parent chats, celebration huddles and hugs, carpooling, or going out for treats afterward. Also, please keep in mind that outside is not a no-COVID zone. People think they don’t need to worry because they are outside, so they get sloppy and forget basics such as masking, distancing and hand-washing.”
VASHON VACCINATION AVAILABILITY
The overview: Demand for vaccinations has been waning as the island approaches the 75% mark of our adult population receiving at least one dose of vaccine. Vaccines have been more available, and there has been less pressure on the systems for getting people vaccinated at the island’s two active vaccination providers. For the last few weeks, there has been at least one location each day to get vaccinated, from Monday through Saturday.
Vashon Pharmacy: The Pharmacy’s website page to make appointments has been open nearly non-stop for the last week. That’s a big contrast to the early days of the drive-through vaccination operation when hundreds of people were simultaneously trying to make appointments and sometimes overloaded the system. Pharmacy owner Tyler Young says that going forward he hopes to avoid the crush of the Monday night appointment website openings, and will try to keep the appointment portal open full-time. Plans were in place at press time to hold at least two vaccination days this week, and there could be more. A team has been looking at ways to make the site even more convenient for the remaining hundreds of people on Vashon who have yet to be vaccinated. Those plans will be widely announced when they are finalized.
Sea Mar: The clinic’s daily first dose vaccination rate has dropped from a peak of 100 per day down to 30 per day. The Sunrise Ridge clinic staff expect to continue holding daily vaccination clinics, Monday through Friday. There will be supply to meet commitments for both Pfizer and Moderna’s second doses as scheduled. At this time, all the first doses at Sea Mar are Moderna vaccine. That means first dose vaccinations for 16- and 17-year-olds are not currently available at Sea Mar, because only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for people under age 18. To increase ease of access for patients, Sea Mar has added an appointment service, in addition to its daily walk-up vaccination offering. To make an appointment, patients can call a central appointment line (not the local clinic) at 1-855-289-4503.
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.• VashonBePrepared.org/COVID-Vaccine
Don’t wait. Vaccinate. It’s easier than ever: Now is the time to get your COVID-19 vaccine. As described above, vaccination is easily available right here on Vashon. And everyone 16 and older is now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting vaccinated protects yourself and those around you, especially those at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Once you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you may be able to start doing some of the things you stopped doing because of the pandemic, including gathering without masks or physical distancing in private settings with others who are fully vaccinated or gathering with those who are not vaccinated and are at low risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Masks are still required in public settings, regardless of people’s vaccination status.
Phase 2 rollback judgment day coming: The Governor will decide next week if King County will be ordered to roll back to Phase 2 and its more restrictive pandemic rules. The outlook is discouraging. As this edition was going to press, King County was over the red line limit for Phase 3, which allows 50% capacity at restaurants and other businesses. A rollback to Phase 2 would cut capacity to 25%. Pierce County and two other counties were rolled back down to Phase 2 capacity limits on April 16. The next phase evaluation comes up on Monday, May 3.
The fourth wave has landed: Governor Jay Inslee has made it official. We are in another COVID-19 spike. State Department of Health data showed an increase in cases, a rise in hospitalizations, and the spread of new virus variants, particularly among younger people. Data also showed marked increases in hospitalizations for children, as well as for people between the ages of 40 and 59. “We would like to be done with the virus, but the virus is not done with us,” Inslee said.
J&J cleared for use again: The CDC has recommended that Johnson & Johnson shots be restarted and the state of Washington has ordered the recommendation to be implemented. The J&J vaccines will carry warning labels noting the rare blood clot risk. The clotting disorder is “rare but clinically serious,” said Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, the deputy director of the C.D.C.’s immunization safety office.
Washington State doubles down on vaccination: The state has doubled its COVID-19 vaccination goals, as case counts rise and coronavirus variants spread. “We are setting a new goal for the state of Washington for 90,000 vaccines per day,” said Dr. Umair Shah, the state’s health secretary. Earlier this winter, the state was striving for 45,000 shots each day, but progress has come faster than anticipated, and Shah said the state’s vaccine infrastructure is ready to handle more if the federal government can provide enough supply.
The northern border remains closed: The United States and Canada border closure to non-essential travel due to COVID-19 has been extended for the 13th time. The border closure is now set to last until at least May 21. The border closure applies to U.S. recreational boaters as well as vehicle and airplane travel.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC): Vashon’s pandemic emergency response began 408 days ago (one year, one month, and 12 days). We have, from the beginning, been working on four operational priorities — health, food security, housing security and economic recovery. The priorities were established by the Incident Commander Fire Chief Charlie Krimmert and approved by the VashonBePrepared Board.
High school vaccination: The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and EOC collaborated with Vashon Island School District on a vaccination week at the high school. Pre-registration opened last week, and a mobile vaccination team administered injections this week.
Contact tracing: The MRC contact tracing team worked with the school district to identify and recommend steps for quarantining twelve students who played in a junior varsity soccer team at the high school. The students were potentially exposed by a player on the opposing team who tested positive for COVID-19, as reported above.
School COVID monitoring: If all goes well, the first COVID-19 testing to monitor against disease will begin at the Vashon Island School District the week of May 3. The pooled testing pilot has been set up in collaboration with the district, MRC, the MRC’s testing laboratory, the state Department of Health, and the EOC. Pooled testing makes it possible to quickly screen large numbers of people by combining samples from groups of 20 patients for one lab analysis. If one of the pooled samples shows an infection, then new samples would be taken for each of the 20 patients in that group for one-by-one testing. The pooling technique has been very effective for the early detection of COVID in large group settings such as schools.
Vashon COVID Relief Fund: The 15th round of disbursements is going out to VashonBePrepared social service and economic recovery partners supporting the island’s response to the pandemic. A total of $45,000 is paying for services from the Food Bank, Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness, the Senior Center, the School District nutrition program, St. Vincent de Paul, DOVE Project, Vashon Youth and Family Services, Vashon Island Growers Association, and Vashon Chamber of Commerce.
Acknowledgments: This week we gratefully acknowledge the contributions of organizations and individuals who have made the vaccination site a smoother ride for our drive-through operation. Tyler Young, the owner of Vashon Pharmacy, graveled the patient observation lot and opened up a driveway to the street. Many people from the King County Transportation Division played a big role. To name a few: Jeremy Ferguson, Maintenance Section Manager, facilitated the Division’s support. Aaron Moe, Vashon Supervisor, got the alley road surface patched. Wesley Harvey, Signs Supervisor, arranged road signs to maintain safety around the vax site. In addition, Kelly Van Buskirk of Vashon Sand and Gravel provided free gravel for the patient greeting and staging area at the movie theater parking lot. Mike Weed at Greentree Dozing did the gravel-spreading work at the theater lot.
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.