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Today marks the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccine shot administered by UW Medicine. Since then, we’ve administered more than 489,000 doses. When you pause to consider that the first known case of COVID-19, in Wuhan, China, was reported just under two years ago, on Dec. 31, 2019, it’s remarkable to reflect on how quickly the scientific community moved from discovery to an effective and life-saving vaccine.

As this year comes to a close, I find myself looking back with gratitude. Not only for the miracle of science and medicine that allows us to fight this deadly and devastating disease, but also for those of you within our community who work so tirelessly to make it happen.

I’m grateful for the vaccine team. You have done so much over the past year to make sure the vaccines have been administered equitably and efficiently throughout our community. And even now, the pediatrics wait list has been cleared and the booster wait list is expected to be cleared within the next day or so. Thank you for your commitment and hard work.

And thank you to the therapeutics team that has worked so hard to develop the monoclonal antibodies and other therapies that will be introduced soon, opening a new front in the fight against the pandemic — and just in time for what is sure to be a busy season. More on this later in my message.

While I would love to end this note, our last for the year, by saying we’re out of the proverbial woods, I cannot. As of today, the Omicron coronavirus variant (B.1.1.529) already accounts for approximately 37% of cases locally and appears to be doubling every one to three days. We expect that Omicron will soon be the dominant variant, just as we’ve seen in South Africa, leading to far more cases of infection. As new Omicron cases arise, we also expect to see an increase in hospitalizations. I cannot say with certainty what the coming weeks and months will bring, but I am sure that we need to prepare for potentially more cases of COVID-19 (Delta and Omicron) and influenza in our community and in UW Medicine clinics, emergency departments and inpatient units. Omicron has the potential to have a very significant impact. For more information, I recommend listening to the Public Health – Seattle & King County update on COVID-19 and Omicron by Dr. Jeff Duchin.

Naturally, this is a major concern as we near the heart of the holiday season. While it won’t be easy to forgo our seasonal traditions for yet another year, it’s more important now than ever that we do what we can to keep everybody in the community safe. So, once again, I urge you to get vaccinated or boosted — and please encourage your friends and family to do the same. Getting booster shots will provide you with the maximum protection available and help prevent our hospitals from being overrun. While UW Medicine is prepared, vaccination is still our best bet and even better when combined with masks, ventilation and staying home/getting tested with any symptoms.

A quick reminder for those who haven’t had a chance to add your COVID-19 vaccination card to your Apple Health/Apple Wallet: go to on your iPhone and follow the steps from there.

Today’s update also includes:

  • Local/National/Global Epidemiology
  • Vaccination Summary
  • COVID-19 Therapeutics Update
  • Boosters and Booster Tracking
  • Employee and Family COVID-19 Testing

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

Local/National/Global Epidemiology

King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 179,394 total confirmed cases and 2,136 deaths as of Friday, Dec. 17. The number of new positive tests is currently at 98.7/7 days/100,000 people (community transmission level = substantial).

Washington: The Department of Health (DOH) reports 701,158 confirmed cases and 9,653 deaths as of Dec. 15.

United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 143,760 new cases, 50,321,503 total cases and 799,847 deaths as of Dec. 16.

Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard reports 271,963,258 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 5,331,019 deaths as of Dec. 17.

UW Medicine Vaccination Summary as of Dec. 16

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

COVID-19 Therapeutics Update

The FDA recently approved emergency use authorization for additional COVID-19 therapeutics for patients with an active COVID-19 infection as well as a prophylactic therapy for patients who do not have COVID-19 but are at higher risk for severe infection due to being immunocompromised or medically unable to receive the vaccine. We are excited to be able to provide these new therapies soon, but they are not available quite yet. We are partnering closely with DOH on allocation and eligibility criteria as demand far outweighs supply. In the meantime for active infections, please continue to refer your patients through our RedCap tool. There is no wait list for the prophylactic treatment Evusheld; we will update you with further details on how to refer your eligible patients in the coming weeks.

Boosters and Booster Tracking

Due to the rapidly increasing prevalence of the Omicron variant in our community, it is more important than ever to get a COVID-19 booster if you are eligible. All people over age 16 who completed their Pfizer or Moderna vaccine series more than six months ago or received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two months ago are STRONGLY recommended to receive a booster shot. You may sign up for a booster dose at If you received your booster outside of UW Medicine, please submit documentation of your booster to Employee Health so that your record can be updated. If you signed up for your booster as a UW Medicine employee at any of our vaccination sites or received your shot at an Employee Health clinic, your booster record is up to date, and no action is needed. If you are a non-clinical employee in the School of Medicine, please refer to the instructions on the UW Return to on-site work page for documentation.

Employee and Family COVID-19 Testing

We encourage all employees and families to be tested if you have symptoms or believe you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. You and your family can easily access information about how to schedule a COVID-19 test by visiting Employee Resources on the website and clicking on the COVID-19 Testing Access quick link. Testing is easy and helps slow transmission of the virus.

Finally, I want to take this last opportunity of the year to sincerely thank you for all you do, every day, to make UW Medicine such a vital part of the health and welfare of our community. I am so grateful and humbled by what we’ve accomplished this past year, and I look forward to all we’ll do in 2022.

I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and hope you find safe ways to connect with loved ones in the days ahead.

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