Submitted by San Juan County
This information expands on and updates the last vaccine FAQ dated Dec. 15,2020.
As the COVID immunization effort moves forward, it is time to provide updated information and answer common questions from the community. As with previous FAQs, some key reminders:
• Patience and flexibility are required. As with all things COVID, the details, timing, and understanding of everything about the COVID vaccine will shift from week to week, if not day to day. Many details are only estimates at this time.
• No single organization is responsible for the vaccine effort. It will take a well-coordinated campaign between pharmaceutical companies, local healthcare providers and pharmacies, delivery services, all levels of government, response agencies, and a range of non-profit community organizations. There will be bumps in the road — this is a complex undertaking.
• Just because people are getting immunized does not mean that we can relax our safety precautions. Even those who are vaccinated may still have the ability to transmit the disease in some cases (the vaccine may prevent severe illness, but may allow for asymptomatic or mild infection where transmission may still be possible).
• To summarize: patience, decency, and flexibility will be the keys to getting through this final stage of the pandemic. Demand will be greater than supply. Some will get the vaccine before others. There will be some individuals who lie or misrepresent their situation in order to jump the line, while others will sacrifice their turn for the greater good. The situation will bring out the best and worst in people. For the islands, our most thoughtful and successful approach is to remain informed, engaged, empathetic, and decent towards one another. Nearly everyone is doing the best they can in a terribly difficult situation.
On to the questions.
QUESTION: Before we get to vaccines, what are the details on the Governor’s recently updated plan for reopening of some businesses and activities?
This week the Governor released details on a new two phase plan for limited reopening of some businesses and a return of some activities.
In brief, all Counties begin in Phase 1, which is very similar to the restrictions currently in place in San Juan County. In order move to Phase 2, a number of metrics must be met on a regional basis. For San Juan County, our region includes Whatcom, Skagit, and Island Counties. Once in Phase 2, the same metrics must be maintained in order to avoid rolling back to Phase 1.
Some highlights of Phase 2 include: indoor dining at 25 percent, indoor fitness facilities at 25 percent, and a further loosening on restrictions on sports.
The metrics will be calculated weekly, and will be displayed on the WA State Department of Health Risk Assessment Dashboard.
Note that as of Jan. 7, this dashboard is not yet displaying the regional metrics.
At this time there are no details or plans available for any reopening beyond Phase 2.
QUESTION: OK, now let’s talk about vaccines. Who is eligible for vaccine now, and who is currently providing vaccinations in San Juan County?
Individuals who fall into “Phase 1a” are currently eligible for vaccination. This group is limited to healthcare professionals, emergency responders, and staff and residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The guidance document the from Washington State Department of Health provides detailed information about who falls into Phase 1a.
As of Jan. 6, the only provider of vaccine to Phase 1a individuals in the islands is the San Juan County Health and Community Services vaccine team. They are hosting weekly clinics on each of the islands, and performing direct outreach to Phase 1a eligible organizations and individuals to schedule vaccine delivery.
QUESTION: That’s Phase 1a, what about Phase 1b? Who is next in line?
On Jan. 6, the Washington State Department of Health released guidance for Phase 1b, and the four tiers within 1b.
In short, the new eligibility grouping open up access to the vaccine to a much larger group of individuals that have been eligible in Phase 1a.