Note: This week, following new guidance from the CDC and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, we are turning over this editorial space in our newspaper to VashonBePrepared’s Medical Reserve Corps — our own hometown heroes who have kept our island remarkably safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here — from the doctors who have brought us our own local testing site, slowed the spread of COVID in our community with diligent and speedy contact tracing efforts, ably advised our school district and local businesses, and partnered in highly effective vaccination efforts in our town — is the sound advice we all need right now. We are so grateful for their expertise and leadership.
Vashon Medical Reserve Corps, working with the Emergency Operations Center, has developed some advice for islanders on masking and distancing, now that the CDC has loosened its COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“We know from the last 14 months that Vashon has a really special and unusually high commitment to COVID-19 safety,” said Dr. Zach Miller, infectious disease expert on the MRC team. “So, we spent some time the last few days thinking about what advice we can give to our neighbors. It’s prudent, based on science, and takes into account our particular circumstances as an island community.”
It’s important that everyone keep in mind that Vashon is surrounded by high disease areas with hundreds of people going back and forth on the ferries. Disease levels in King and Pierce counties are worse than the first two spikes we fought through in April and July of last year.
The protection provided by vaccination is very good but it is not perfect. The two main vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, provide about 90% protection against symptomatic disease when given under real-world conditions.
Vashon MRC recommends that Vashon residents make personal decisions about the risk they are willing to accept for themselves and those around them.
Your risk can be assessed with three questions:
- Do I have particular risk factors (age, diabetes, heart or lung disease, pregnancy, immune disease) that could pose a special risk if I were to get COVID?
- Do I need to be around others with risk factors in my work or family life?
- Am I regularly in close contact with others I do not know in my daily life?
A yes to any one of the three questions means you should follow the example of MRC experts and continue to be cautious with masking indoors, distancing, and handwashing — until the disease level in our region is much lower.
Outdoor events remain much safer than indoor events. If you need to gather with people you do not know well, it’s best to do so outdoors.
Vashon MRC supports the many Vashon businesses that have chosen to keep requiring masks in order to protect employees and customers who may have risk factors.
Remember, wearing a mask is as much to protect others as it is to protect you. As a sign of respect for the work that island businesses have done to keep us all safe over the past year, please carry a mask and put it on before entering any business that requests it.