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After months of prioritizing the COVID-19 vaccine rollout through phases and tiers, Washington expanded eligibility to all patients 16 and older this week.

Overall, this is an exciting development — our teams at UW Medicine have been diligently preparing for it since Governor Inslee’s announcement at the end of March. While we are eager to support this effort, the expected influx of appointment requests presents a real scheduling challenge for our system. Demand for the vaccine remains higher than our supply, and we anticipate our waitlist growing quickly during these first few days of full eligibility. We appreciate your patience and cooperation as our vaccine team manages the process. (Thank you to all on the front lines of this effort!).

As for the vaccines, only the Pfizer vaccine has been authorized for use in patients 16 years and older. The Moderna vaccine has been authorized for those 18 years and older, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is currently on pause statewide as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigate a very small number of reports (~7) of a rare but serious blood clot appearing within two weeks of vaccination. Nearly 7 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered nationwide to date.

While vaccination efforts intensify, the latest data show COVID-19 cases rising in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. As always, it’s important that we remain cautious and protect ourselves and each other by continuing to follow the proven health and safety protocols. As you may have seen in the media, three counties (Pierce, Cowlitz and Whitman) rolled back to Phase 2 earlier this week as a result of rising cases and hospitalizations. We have the tools (masking, distancing, etc.) to keep this from happening in King County, but it is up to all of us to use them.

This also applies to how we work in-person at UW Medicine. We are seeing some gatherings of unmasked healthcare workers inside our facilities. A friendly reminder that there is still no sure way to tell who has been vaccinated besides directly asking the person — and doing so is equivalent to asking about their personal medical information, which not everyone will be comfortable sharing. Our best guidance continues to be against in-person meetings. If an in-person meeting is required, however, there should be no eating or drinking involved, participants should maintain six feet of distance between others and also should have a remote option to attend. Thank you for continuing to prioritize a healthy and safe environment for our patients and your colleagues.

Today’s update includes:
• Local/National/Global Epidemiology
• Vaccination Summary
• Transition to UW Travel Policy
• Public Health Survey: COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

Marketo_Inpatient Census 4.16.21

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 92,599 total cases and 1,491 deaths as of Thursday, April 15. The number of new positive tests is currently at 198.5/14 days/100,000 people. The effective reproductive (Re) number was estimated to be 1.3 (estimate range: 0.8 – 1.7).

Washington: The Department of Health reports 355,387 confirmed cases and 5,362 deaths as of April 14. Of the 6,210,182 people who have been tested, 5.7% have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 73,622 new cases, 31,231,869 total COVID-19 cases and 561,356 deaths as of April 15

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 138,688,383 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,978,935 deaths as of April 16.

UW Medicine Vaccination Summary as of April 15

*Total Doses Given: 217,805. Site numbers represent total doses administered to employees, patients and community members.

Transition to University of Washington Travel Policy

UW Medicine has transitioned to the University of Washington policy for work-related and personal travel. Employees are strongly encouraged to cancel or postpone domestic travel that is not essential to business, academic or research continuity. For any necessary travel, employees must follow the current guidelines for testing, symptom monitoring and self-isolation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While we hope we can end all restrictions on travel at some point in the near future, we are not there yet. Please refer to the UW policy for complete details.

Public Health Survey: COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

UW Medicine is participating in a healthcare worker study with Public Health — Seattle & King County (PHSKC) and the CDC to support further understanding of how COVID-19 vaccine side effects vary among different people. The information gathered will help improve communications to prepare people for what they may experience following vaccination. If you can participate, please take the PHSKC survey to support this important effort. It takes only 10 minutes, and all responses are confidential. This public health study relies on a high participation rate to ensure a comprehensive view of adverse vaccine side effects, so your collaboration is appreciated!

Now that spring has finally sprung (cherry blossoms time!), the nicer weather also allows for the return of various activities we’ve been missing. From spring break to easing of some restrictions on gatherings and re-opening schools for in-person learning, these are positive signs but also may contribute to the increasing COVID-19 cases in our region. As vaccination creates greater comfort with socializing, we must remember that the pandemic is not over yet. Thank you, as always, for all that you do for the safety and health of our patients and community.

John Lynch, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
Associate Medical Director, Harborview Medical Center
Division of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, UW School of Medicine