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The big news this week was the recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that people with weakened immune systems receive a third dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).

While the Biden administration later indicated that all Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients will eventually need a third dose, that recommendation has not yet been formally evaluated by the FDA or approved, but we anticipate it may be coming. At this time, UW Medicine is offering third doses only to individuals with moderate to severe immunosuppression through our hospitals and clinics in alignment with CDC recommendations. To find out if you qualify, or to get more information, visit our FAQ. Our vaccine teams are preparing and will be ready to adjust when third doses are formally recommended for additional groups in the coming weeks. UW Medicine employees who meet these criteria are also welcome to receive their third dose through employee health.

Related to vaccinations, a reminder that we are now less than a month from our campus-wide official return to on-site work date of Sept. 13. In keeping with Governor Jay Inslee’s recent vaccination proclamation, all UW Medicine employees will be required to be fully vaccinated or receive a medical or religious exemption by Monday, Oct. 18. (We will have more details to share about the exemption process soon.) You’ve heard it often, but vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against serious COVID-19-related illness or death. If you’ve been hesitating, we encourage you to talk with your primary care provider or your local employee health team and make that first-dose appointment.

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 122,580 total confirmed cases and 1,723 deaths as of Friday, Aug. 20. The number of new positive tests is currently at 193.3/7 days/100,000 people (community transmission level = high).

Washington: The Department of Health reports 474,342 confirmed cases and 6,330 deaths as of Aug. 18. Of the 8,681,592 people who have been tested, 5.46% have been positive.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 157,694 new cases, 37,259,886 total COVID-19 cases and 623,244 deaths as of Aug. 19.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 209,876,613 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,400,284 deaths as of Aug. 20.

UW Medicine Vaccination Summary as of Aug. 19

*Site numbers show the number of employees, patients and community members who received vaccines at each site and the total number of first, second and third doses administered.

It’s important to remember that a large portion of our population still cannot get the vaccine. Children under 12 remain ineligible to receive any of the three available vaccines, and with most schools in our area set to open in two weeks for in-person learning, we know many parents are feeling anxious about sending their kids back to the classroom. We understand and empathize. The best thing we can do to protect our children is for everybody who can get vaccinated to do so, and to continue to be diligent in our masking, physical distancing and hand hygiene. We are hoping for a smooth re-entry to the classroom for all, teachers and administrators included, and will continue to provide resources and share updates that might help with the transition.

Thank you for continuing to show up for each other and our patients every day.

Chloe Bryson-Cahn, MD
Associate Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
Harborview Medical Center

Seth Cohen, MD, MSc
Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
University of Washington Medical Center

Shireesha Dhanireddy, MD
Medical Director, Infectious Disease Clinic
Harborview Medical Center

Abir “Abby” Hussein, MD, MPH
Associate Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
University of Washington Medical Center

Nandita Mani, MD
Associate Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control
University of Washington Medical Center