VashonBePrepared asks: What if the big one happened today?

Getting earthquake-ready is easier when you break it down into three main steps.

The deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria killed nearly 56,000 people last month.

A few weeks ago, we noted the 22nd anniversary of the 6.8 magnitude Nisqually earthquake that injured 400 people in our region and caused an estimated $4 billion in damage. These are powerful reminders for every one of us. After all, we live in earthquake country.

So, how ready are you if a quake struck Vashon Island today? Watch this 90-second video on how to be more ready.

Here’s a step you must take: practice how to drop, cover, and hold on. That will help you stay safe during the shaking, the time when you are most at risk of being hurt. If you are in a car when the shaking starts, pull over and stay inside your vehicle. If you are in a wheelchair or with someone in a wheelchair, lock the wheels, cover the person’s head and neck, and stay put. Get ready to move to a safer location after the shaking stops.

Getting earthquake-ready is easier when you break the project down into three main steps.

  • Prepare before the quake because you won’t have any warning.
  • Learn how to stay safe during the shaking: It’s drop, cover, and hold on.
  • Know what to do after the shaking stops. Help may be days or weeks away.

Here’s a simple, clear webpage that describes what to do for each of those three earthquake preparation steps.

Cochrane: Our study did not say masks don’t work

You’ve probably seen social media and other reports claiming that a scientific study proved masks don’t work to stop the spread of COVID. The experts who did the study say that’s not what they said and their work has been “widely misinterpreted.”

“Many commentators have claimed that a recently updated Cochrane review shows that ‘masks don’t work,’ which is an inaccurate and misleading interpretation,” said Karla Soares-Weiser, the editor-in-chief of the Cochrane Review. “Given the limitations in the primary evidence, the review is not able to address the question of whether mask-wearing itself reduces people’s risk of contracting or spreading respiratory viruses. This wording was open to misinterpretation, for which we apologize.”

The full statement from Cochrane’s editor-in-chief can be read here.

Washington’s free COVID tests end for Vashon

More than 15 million home COVID tests have been distributed at no charge by the state of Washington since the Say Yes! campaign was launched about one year ago. That program has now ended for Vashon, although some areas of the state will still be able to order tests until May 11th, according to the state Department of Health.

A check of the Say Yes! test kit ordering page says the supply of tests for the 98070 zip code has been exhausted.

Tests are still available at Vashon Pharmacy, which will handle getting the cost covered through your insurance in most cases. You can speed up the test pickup process by filling out the online form here.

Vashon COVID vax availability: two easy options

Recent studies have provided more evidence that vaccines do work to reduce the risk of serious illness and death, but more than half of the folks on Vashon are still not up to date with their COVID vaccinations. It’s easy to get the latest bivalent Omicron vaccine at two spots right here on the island.

  • Vashon Pharmacy: Make an appointment online at You can also make an appointment by completing a paper form inside the pharmacy, or simply walk in without an appointment (although you may have a longer wait). Call 206-463-9118 if you have questions.
  • Sea Mar Community Health Centers: You don’t need an appointment, but you may save some time by calling before going to the clinic, to make sure the vaccine supply and staff are available. The number is 206-463-3671. You don’t need to be a Sea Mar patient.

Being up to date with COVID vaccinations is important for people of all ages. For instance, 90% of COVID deaths and 78% of COVID hospitalizations occur among people 65 and older. And younger people are more likely to suffer from long COVID. Unfortunately, fewer than 54% of Vashon residents have received the latest bivalent booster, and only 73% of Vashon seniors.

If you haven’t had a booster since last summer, the newest vaccine improves protection against the latest COVID variants. The latest bivalent Omicron booster has been out since September 2022. That’s long enough so that peer-reviewed scientific studies have now confirmed the booster is safe and helps prevent serious disease, significantly reducing chances of hospitalization or death.

No vaccine can protect you 100% against getting COVID, so be safe by keeping up to date with vaccinations, wearing an N95 or other high-quality mask when indoors in public or crowded places, and avoiding crowded indoor gatherings when possible.

COVID risk level: holding at Basic

The overall COVID risk rating for Vashon was lowered to the blue Basic Risk level in the first week of March. It had been set to Elevated Risk since Thanksgiving.

The VashonBePrepared COVID Risk Advice Tool is keyed to the hospitalization rate in our three-county COVID risk assessment area. It also takes into account the new case rate, the positive test rate, and COVID virus levels in wastewater tested by regional public health departments.

Advice for the Basic Risk Level includes:

  • Wear an N95 mask indoors if you have been exposed to COVID, are at risk for health or other reasons, or live with or spend time with someone at high risk.
  • Keep vaccinations up to date, including boosters, and 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 5 days and until you test negative. If immunocompromised, discuss additional prevention actions with your healthcare provider.