Vashon residents have sought out the bivalent Omicron booster vaccination in numbers significantly higher than the rest of King County.
More than four in 10 Vashonites have received the injection according to the latest data from Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC). That’s 60% higher than King County as a whole.
The PHSKC data dashboard reports that 42.4% of eligible Vashon residents have received the bivalent Omicron booster, compared to 25.9% of the eligible county-wide population.
Bivalent COVID booster vaccinations are easily available at no cost, for people aged 5 and older, by making an appointment at vashonpharmacy.com/covid-vaccine. Drop-ins are welcome at Vashon Pharmacy and the Sea Mar clinic. For pharmacy vaccinations, you will save time by making an appointment first.
The Omicron booster has a growing track record of protecting against serious levels of disease that could put you in the hospital. In addition, the timing is right to get a booster now, so your protection against infection in the short term should last through the season of holiday gatherings and travel.
According to Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteer Dr. Jim Bristow, Vashon’s high rate of those who have received boosters is the latest indication of Vashon’s strong pandemic response — helping to explain why Vashon has had COVID infection, hospitalization, and death rates well below the rest of the country,
“Everyone should take a bow for this achievement,” said Bristow. “Since March of 2020, our community has heeded the intensive public health education provided by VashonBePrepared. As soon as tests became available, people came to us to get tested so we could do contact tracing and limit the spread. And, when we got the vaccine, Vashon rolled up their sleeves and got the injections.”
However, Bristow added that Vashon still has a long way to go with the Omicron booster, in order to reach the islands’ levels of previous editions of COVID vaccines.
“With a new surge predicted by public health experts, now is the time to bring your COVID-19 vaccination up to date,” he said.
Research underway to combine COVID and flu vaccine
Three vaccine manufacturers are working on combination vaccines that put both COVID and flu in a single injection. Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax are all at various phases of development, including initial human safety trials. One or more combo vaccines might be available in time for the 2023-24 influenza season.
A combination vaccine could make a significant difference in public health protection against both of these diseases for two reasons:
Access: A combined shot would make it easier to get vaccinated because you would need only one injection, at one appointment or drop-in location. Public health experts say better access removes one of the major barriers for people trying to decide on getting vaccinated.
Motivation: A combined shot may motivate more people to get vaccinated. A person who wants a flu shot may be motivated to go ahead with the combination and get COVID protection, and vice versa.
Safety Tip: Ventilate for Safer Holiday Gatherings
This week, thousands of islanders will gather indoors around crowded tables to enjoy Thanksgiving. That increases the risk of spreading a respiratory infection.
So, ask everyone to do a COVID test before they arrive for the festivities and to send regrets if they test positive or have COVID symptoms.
Here’s another big step islanders can take: getting some ventilation or air filtration going will reduce the level of exposure to COVID — not to mention the other “tripledemic” threats of seasonal flu or RSV. Opening windows, running furnaces with filters, and using HEPA filters all help clear the air.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a comprehensive guide for ventilation and air filtration at bit.ly/CDCventilation.
In addition, the CDC offers a quick and easy online tool that walks you through ventilation and filtration measures to help keep you and your guests safer from infection.
Find it here.
COVID Risk: Basically Steady
In our tri-county area of King, Pierce, and Kitsap, the hospitalization rate continues to hold steady, below the benchmark of 3.5 COVID hospitalizations per week per 100,000 population. However, there are some early signs that recent projections of a fall/winter spike in COVID may come true. COVID case rates have been rising in multiple areas of the United States.
This Basic Risk Level assessment is based on data from the state Department of Health’s COVID dashboard. The risk estimate has been customized to Vashon’s particular situation because it takes into account that Vashon is in a three-county COVID exposure pool —King, Pierce, and Kitsap. One-third of the island population takes a round-trip ferry ride to the mainland each day. Therefore, the metrics from the three counties are blended to take into account the island’s regional COVID exposure risk. For more information on the methodology behind Vashon’s COVID Risk Advice Tool, go here.
Basic Risk Level Advice
- Wear an N95 mask indoors in public if exposed to COVID, and/or at risk for health or other reasons, and/or you live or spend time with someone at risk.
- Keep vaccinations up to date, including boosters.
- Maintain good ventilation at home and at work.
- Avoid those with suspected or confirmed COVID.
- If exposed to COVID, wear a mask in public and avoid contact with those at high risk for 10 days.
- Always home-test if you have symptoms.
- If you test positive, isolate for at least five days and until you test negative.
- If immunocompromised, discuss additional prevention actions with your healthcare provider.