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UW Medicine COVID-19 Update Oct. 22, 2021

Thanks to you, UW Medicine is safer now than it has been at any point during the pandemic. With the passing of Monday’s statewide deadline for compliance with Governor Inslee’s vaccination mandate, we can proudly say that all UW Medicine employees have either been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or received an approved accommodation.

That is an incredible achievement and a milestone worth celebrating. Like so many of the challenges we’ve overcome this year, this one required a team effort. Huge appreciation goes to our hard-working teams across departments, from Employee Health to Human Resources, who worked long hours vetting exemption requests, validating the status of every employee, and responding to countless questions as we approached the deadline.

Your full and timely compliance with the mandate reinforces our commitment to patient health and sends a clear signal to the community about the importance of vaccination. It’s this collective action that gets us closer to ending the pandemic. I hope it also gives you added peace of mind as you walk the halls of our buildings.

This week Harborview also launched the first phase of the updated visitor policy requiring either vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within three days of visiting the medical center. Adults 18 and over accompanying a clinic patient must also meet this criteria. So far, the program is going very well. We’ll be learning from the Harborview experience as we prepare to move into the next phases at UW Medical Center and other UW Medicine clinical sites. This is yet another step towards increasing the safety of our clinical environments for all.

As we look ahead, another significant government requirement takes effect on Monday, Oct. 25. That’s when everyone 12 and older will need to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result within three days to enter certain indoor and outdoor spaces in King County, including restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, live music venues, and outdoor events with 500 people or more.

Acceptable forms of proof include the following:

  • CDC vaccination card or photo of vaccine card
  • Documented proof of vaccination from medical record or vaccine provider
  • Printed certificate or QR code from myirmobile.com (I’m a fan of this one, especially the feature to add my children’s vaccination proof alongside my own!)
  • Any other digital vaccine card specified by Public Health – Seattle & King County

The governor’s vaccine mandate and the county’s vaccine verification program come together at an ideal time to prevent another winter COVID-19 surge. If we can reduce transmission rates as well as severe COVID-19 outcomes (i.e., hospitalizations and deaths), we can ease the strain on our hospital systems and enter next year with a renewed sense of optimism and hope.

Today’s update also includes:

  • Local/National/Global Epidemiology
  • Employee and family COVID-19 testing
  • Pediatric vaccinations under review

UW Medicine COVID-19 Activity Summary

Local/National/Global Epidemiology


  • King County: Public Health – Seattle & King County is reporting 161,406 total confirmed cases and 1,970 deaths as of Friday, October 22. The number of new positive tests is currently at 120.1/7 days/100,000 people (community transmission level = high).
  • Washington: The Department of Health reports 625,677 confirmed cases and 8,417 deaths as of Wednesday, Oct. 20. Of the 9,842,443 people who have been tested, 6% have been positive.
  • United States: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 73,931 new cases on Thursday, October 21, 45,149,234 total COVID-19 cases and 730,368 deaths.
  • Global: The WHO COVID-19 Dashboard as of Thursday, October 21 reports 241,886,635 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,919,755 deaths.

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 the Employee Resources page on the uwmedicine.org website and clicking on the COVID-19 Testing Access quick link. Testing is easy and helps slow transmission of the virus.

Pediatric vaccinations under review

Like me, many of you are parents and want to know when the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to children ages 5 to 11. A decision may come in a matter of weeks. Advisory committees to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are scheduled to meet over the next two weeks; if all goes as expected, the Pfizer vaccine might be authorized for that age group by early November. Our vaccine team is following these developments closely and will be ready to go once details are finalized.

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I’ll leave you this week with a friendly reminder that now is a great time to get your flu vaccine. UW Medicine employees can get their flu shot at walk-in sites throughout our system or schedule an appointment through Employee Health. This winter is likely to be a different flu season compared to last year when many adults and children were at home and we didn’t see any flu circulating. With many more public and school activities, protecting everyone from influenza is even more important this time around.

Thank you again for your cooperation and support during the last weeks leading up to the vaccine mandate deadline. We have emerged from that process stronger and safer – for our patients, visitors and for each other – and for that, we can all be grateful. Until next time, I hope you get a chance to enjoy some of this beautiful Fall weather, and stay warm and dry!
Sincerely,

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

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