FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2021
Heather Thomas, 425.508.4980
Snohomish County Reaches Milestone of 500,000 Vaccines Given
Vaccine supplies holding steady as County races against variant-fueled surge
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Data through April 20 shows that 493,730 vaccines had been given. Thanks to an allocation of more than 50,000 vaccines coming to Snohomish County this week, and roughly 5,000 doses now being given daily, the county has surpassed a milestone of 500,000 vaccines administered in 18 weeks.
This includes doses administered by all providers in Snohomish County, including clinics, the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, and all mass vaccination sites and activities coordinated through the Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce. The taskforce brings together public health, emergency management, law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services, human services, transit, public works, tribal governments and other partners within Snohomish County.
“We now have 1 out of every 3 residents over the age of 16 fully vaccinated in Snohomish County, and that’s pretty remarkable in less than five months,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “Finding a vaccine is getting easier every day, which is encouraging news given the urgency we have in getting eligible people vaccinated. We’ll be working to complete the remainder of the effort on an even shorter timeline, but we also need everyone to sign up and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
The most recent release of the weekly variant report from the Washington State Department of Health shows the proportion of variants of concern identified has been increasing. These emerging variants of concern are easier to spread, can cause more severe illness, and are a big part of the rising number of COVID cases in Snohomish County. The variants coupled with a notable increase in ill-advised gatherings are fueling a fourth wave.
“Our case investigations and any scan of social media highlight many of the reasons behind our surge,” added Dr. Spitters. “There are too many episodes of too many people getting together with friends or family members who aren’t fully vaccinated, who aren’t wearing masks and who aren’t keeping their distance.”
Social gatherings aren’t the only place where cases are growing. The Health District is also seeing a rise in workplace-associated cases and outbreaks. More details can be found in a detailed case report through April 10, along with monthly outbreak and school case reports being released next week.
It’s time for everyone to step up their efforts. This means:
- Wearing a mask when outside the home and around people you don’t live with;
- Taking it outside for small gatherings and avoiding large gatherings, especially indoors;
- Keeping indoor spaces well ventilated;
- Washing hands and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces often; and
- Getting vaccinated as soon as possible once eligible.
As a reminder, there are a number of ways to look for available vaccine appointments:
- Information on the Snohomish County Vaccine Taskforce’s mass vaccination site is provided at http://bit.ly/snocovaccine, along with appointment registration links and which vaccine (Johnson & Johnson, Moderna or Pfizer) is being administered at each site.
- Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has updated its vaccine locator page at https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov allowing people to search by their ZIP code.
- For a full list of Federal Retail Pharmacy Program locations, visit www.vaccinefinder.org.
- Veterans of all ages may contact the VA’s Puget Sound Health Care System at 206-716-5716 to schedule an appointment or contact their VA primary care team directly.
Update on Johnson & Johnson Vaccines
Following the pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met again today for further review of data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine.
In these cases, a blood clot in the brain formed called thrombosis. This is coupled with low blood platelets, known as thrombocytopenia. When those both occur after a vaccine it is referred to as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS.
Cases occurred primarily among women between the ages of 18 and 49, occurring 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The warning signs of TTS include severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, and/or shortness of breath.
The ACIP voted to reaffirm its recommendation of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for persons 18 years of age and older in the U.S population under the Emergency Use Authorization.
In addition, ACIP recommended that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) include a warning statement and for Johnson & Johnson to include an information sheet at vaccination that informs individuals about the increased risk of TTS. Those concerned about the increased risk may consider choosing another COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
“I am impressed with the ability of our national safety monitoring system to have detected this rare but serious event,” said Dr. Spitters. “I am grateful for, and have trust in, the ACIP’s rapid review and updated recommendations. We’ll be coordinating with DOH and the Vaccine Taskforce to resume Johnson & Johnson vaccinations as indicated by the CDC and FDA and when supplies are available.”
If people experience any of the symptoms following vaccination, they should contact their healthcare provider or seek medical attention immediately. Please note that it is common to experience mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue and joint/muscle pain, during the first week after receiving any COVID-19 vaccine. These side effects usually start within three days of getting a vaccine and should only last a few days.
Those with mild or severe symptoms should report their experience to the two vaccine safety monitoring systems:
- Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). A national passive reporting system you (or your health care provider) can use to report your adverse events or side effects after any vaccination to the CDC and FDA. Unusual or unexpected patterns of reporting may indicate a possible safety problem requiring a closer look.
- V-Safe. A smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. You can use this platform to tell the CDC about any side effects. You may be contacted by someone from the CDC to check on you and get more information.
Health District Employee Receives National Award
At a virtual awards ceremony held April 20, the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) recognized MRC programs and individuals around the country. Snohomish Health District employee Therese Quinn was chosen for the Elizabeth Fitch Memorial Leadership Award.
This award is presented annually to an individual who exemplifies the outstanding passion, commitment, and spirit of volunteerism, partnership, and leadership that Elizabeth embodied and inspired in others. Quinn has been an MRC unit coordinator since 2007 and currently serves as the unit leader for three MRC units: Snohomish County MRC, Skagit County MRC, and Tulalip Tribes MRC.
Her recognition read as follows:
Therese has been instrumental in coordinating surge volunteer staff for the COVID-19 response from day one in January 2020. Therese has not slowed down since, adeptly managing surplus volunteer interest, collaborating with nearby MRC units, and expertly managing virtual volunteer engagement while still finding time to mentor other units directly. She regularly presents to the MRC network on well check webinars, participates in state MRC meetings, and serves as chair of the NACCHO MRC Advisory Group. Therese is generous with her time and talents and the MRC network is lucky to have her.
The MRC is a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities. The MRC network comprises approximately 200,000 volunteers in roughly 800 community-based units located throughout the United States and its territories.
MRC volunteers include medical and public health professionals, as well as other community members without healthcare backgrounds. MRC units engage these volunteers to strengthen public health, improve emergency response capabilities, and build community resiliency.
Locally, more than 340 MRC volunteers have logged over 25,000 hours in support of the COVID-19 response. During a tour of the Arlington mass vaccination site on Tuesday, Governor Inslee selected Snohomish County MRC volunteer Stephanie Dickson as the Washingtonian of the Day.
Beware of Unusual or Concerning Testing Operations
Reports from Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) have called attention “unusual” testing sites and practices by at least one organization. Concerns raised by PHSKC include substandard testing set-ups not following infection prevention practices and failure to report test results to public health authorities as required by law. They have also received complaints of door-to-door outreach making false statements to residents about testing being required by the health department or the Governor.
Following news coverage, the Health District has received some inquiries about testing site operations in Snohomish County. Those inquiries are being looked into.
The Health District advises caution in engaging with anyone offering or requiring testing who cannot demonstrate affiliation with a legitimate healthcare entity. This should include providing proper identification linking them to that entity.
Although testing can be mandated by local public health in some circumstances, that authority is never delegated to a non-Health District entity. Individuals should be skeptical about solicitations for free testing in public, at someone’s doorstep, by telephone or email. Unfortunately, risk of sub-standard practices, inaccurate results, or identity theft do exist. People should err on the side of not engaging if approached.
If there are questions or concerns about the legitimacy of a testing operation, individuals are encouraged to contact the Health District by email at email@example.com or share details through the call center at 425.339.5278. If COVID testing is needed, people should contact their healthcare provider, local pharmacy or visit www.snohd.org/testing.
COVID Testing Schedule
The schedule for the week of April 26 remains as follows:
- Everett site located at 3715 Oakes Avenue – Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Lynnwood Food Bank site at 5320 176th St SW – open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Evergreen State Fairgrounds in the front parking lot off of 179th Ave SE in Monroe – open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Appointments for testing are encouraged, and registration is available at www.snohd.org/testing. Those without internet access or needing language assistance can reach the Health District’s call center at 425.339.5278 to schedule a testing appointment. The call center is staffed 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after hours or on weekends can leave a message, which will be returned on the next business day.