COVID-19 Information & Resources

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Please note that King County Public Health should remain your primary source of information on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Please check out their COVID-19 Data Dashboards for the latest statistics. To see recent news on this page, click here.

For the latest Washington State-level COVID-19 health guidance, statistics and resources, visit Coronavirus.wa.gov.

For Sammamish City Hall re-opening plan, please see here.

Please note that King County Public Health should remain your primary source of information on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Please check out their COVID-19 Data Dashboards for the latest statistics. To see recent news on this page, click here.

For the latest Washington State-level COVID-19 health guidance, statistics and resources, visit Coronavirus.wa.gov.

For Sammamish City Hall re-opening plan, please see here.

  • Inslee provides support to hospitals to fight Omicron variant

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    Reprinted from Governor Inslee's Medium page

    With COVID-19 cases rising due to the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, hospitals are seeing a dramatic increase in COVID hospitalizations. The health care staffing shortages have led hospitals to be at or over their capacity to treat patients. Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that the state will be taking a number of actions to help alleviate the staffing crisis in hospitals.

    The governor was joined for the virtual press conference by Umair Shah, MD, MPH, secretary, Washington State Department of Health and General Bret Daugherty, Washington State Military Department.

    Deploy the National Guard

    The governor has asked the Washington State National Guard to deploy 100 non-clinical personnel across the state to be deployed to the emergency departments to assist with various non-medical tasks to alleviate the crowded situation currently existing within those emergency departments.

    The members of the state National Guard will be sent to:

    • Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett
    • Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital in Yakima
    • Confluence Health/Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee
    • Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital in Spokane; and
    • provide COVID testing teams

    With the significant demand for testing, the National Guard will be deployed to areas outside of hospitals to set up testing sites in the following locations:

    • Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia
    • Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland
    • UW Medicine/Harborview Medical Center in Seattle
    • MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital in Tacoma
    • There are additional FEMA testing sites that will be set up in King County and Snohomish County
  • Increase in breakthrough cases related to current COVID-19 surge

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    For immediate release: January 13, 2022 (22-008)

    Contact: DOH Communications

    Increase in breakthrough cases related to current COVID-19 surge

    OLYMPIA –The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is seeing an increase in the number of “vaccine breakthrough” cases related to the recent increase in overall cases statewide. Even with the increase in breakthrough infections, data continue to show that vaccination is highly protective against hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

    Current reporting shows a recent 43% increase in the number of breakthrough cases. The increase in the number of breakthrough cases is related to the increase in the number of total cases statewide. From January 17, 2021 - January 1, 2022, there have been 123,365 vaccine breakthrough cases identified in Washington State. While the majority of individuals with confirmed vaccine breakthrough experienced only mild or no symptoms, at least 3% were hospitalized.

    To date, more than 4.8 million people in Washington state are up to date on their vaccines. The breakthrough cases represent a small portion, about 2.5% of the vaccinated population.

    “If you are already vaccinated, getting a booster dose of vaccine is the best way to decrease your chance of getting a breakthrough infection,” said Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, Chief Science Officer. “Even without a booster dose, those who are vaccinated are less likely to become very ill and need hospitalization, and a booster dose decreases the risk even more.”

    Large-scale clinical studies have found that COVID-19 vaccines prevented most people from serious illness and hospitalization. This means a very small number of fully vaccinated people will still become infected with COVID-19. Scientists note that breakthroughs are expected with any vaccine.

    A person is considered to have vaccine breakthrough if they test positive for COVID-19 using a PCR test or antigen test and received their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine more than two weeks prior to the positive test. Additional investigations help us better understand clinical and outbreak information when vaccine breakthrough happens.

    “Even though the Omicron variant has an increased ability to evade immunity from vaccination, vaccines and boosters will lower the risk that an infection could land you in the hospital,” said Dr. Kwan-Gett. “That’s why to avoid worsening the strain on our hospitals, everyone should use a high quality well-fitting mask, don’t use the emergency department unless it’s a true emergency, and most important get vaccinated and boosted as soon as you are eligible.”

    Information regarding variants and breakthrough cases can be found in the SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing and Variants in Washington State. This report and the SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Breakthrough Surveillance and Case Information Resource are located on the COVID-19 Data Dashboard :: Washington State Department of Health and are updated every week.

    The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection.

  • COVID-19 cases spike significantly in the past week

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    Reprinted from Washington State Department of Health

    News Release

    For immediate release: December 29, 2021 (21-263)

    Contact: DOH Communications

    COVID-19 cases spike significantly in the past week

    Omicron variant likely cause

    OLYMPIA – The state of Washington is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, and transmission is expected to rise in the coming weeks. While it is still too early to tell how much of the increase is due to Omicron, epidemiologists with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) agree that Omicron prevalence is increasing and is most likely the dominant strain.

    While additional data are still being sent to the state, the largest single-day report of new cases so far occurred on December 24, with 6,140 new COVID-19 cases. Despite a recent increase in testing around the holidays, public health officials say the increase in new cases significantly outpaces the increase in testing. The number of cases is expected to continue to increase through the new year.

    The spike in cases, together with the first cases of the flu this season, will likely mean increased hospitalizations in the near future, raising concerns about the state’s health care system. Washington state’s hospitals and clinics are already stretched and strained due to an exhausted and understaffed workforce who have been caring for more patients than ever before.

    About Omicron

    State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases, Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH, says Omicron likely has overtaken the Delta variant in Washington or will very soon based on sequencing information from the University of Washington, our state, and the CDC.

    “What we are seeing now is the leading edge. Our focus is on getting a better picture of how and where Omicron is spreading,” he said. “It is not just about counting Omicron cases. It is about sampling the entire state so we can understand the prevalence of the variant beyond high-population areas. Washington state has one of the most extensive genotyping systems in the U.S., which allows us to track a variant’s spread faster than many other states.”

    Studies are ongoing to determine the effectiveness of vaccines and therapeutic treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies and oral antivirals, against Omicron. Based on initial information, it appears that most monoclonal antibodies may not be as effective against this variant, although Sotrovimab, a medication that the FDA is allowing for emergency use to treat COVID-19, may be more effective against Omicron.

    Early results also indicate that the initial vaccine series may be less effective at preventing infection with the Omicron variant, but still offer substantial protection against infection and severe illness. Receiving a booster dose may improve protection against severe disease with Omicron.

    Risk of hospitalization and death from Omicron

    While it is too early to predict hospitalizations and deaths as a result of the Omicron variant, the widespread availability of vaccines and boosters lowers the risk for hospitalization and death for those who have received their full vaccination and booster shots and helps preserve our health system and hospital capacity.

    In Washington state, the COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths by Vaccination Status weekly report indicates that:

    • Unvaccinated 12-34 year-olds are 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 compared with fully vaccinated 12-34 year-olds.
    • Unvaccinated 35-64 year-olds, the likelihood of being hospitalized with COVID-19 is 18 times higher than those in the same age group who have been fully vaccinated.
    • Unvaccinated adults 65 and older are 13 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 compared with fully vaccinated 65 year-olds and older.

    Surges in hospitalizations and deaths are usually seen weeks following a spike in cases.

    As of December 27, 2021, 37.4 percent of the state’s residents have not been vaccinated. Nearly 10,000 Washingtonians have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

    What can the public do?

    The best protection from any variant is to get vaccinated and boosted. “The recent emergence of Omicron is another reminder of the importance of vaccinations and boosters for everyone eligible, especially for children and adults with chronic conditions that place them at higher risk for severe illness due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, Chief Science Officer. “We know vaccines are safe and effective at protecting us from hospitalization and death due to COVID-19. Getting a booster is the best way to increase immunity that tends to wane over time.”

    It is also important that everyone six months of age and older get an annual flu vaccine to reduce your chance of getting the flu and help preserve our hospital and healthcare system capacity. The flu is a highly contagious disease that can cause mild to severe illness, and lead to hospitalization and death – even in healthy, young people. Young children, pregnant people, those with underlying health conditions, and people aged 65 and older are at high risk for flu-related complications.

    Flu illness is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, millions of children get sick with seasonal flu, thousands are hospitalized, and some children die from flu. Across Washington, the flu vaccine, and all recommended childhood vaccines, are available at no cost for children from birth through age 18.

    For weekly flu activity reports, educational materials, vaccine information, and other flu prevention resources, visit www.KnockOutFlu.org.

    COVID-19 booster doses are now recommended for everyone 16 and older six months after completing an mRNA vaccine series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or two months after receiving the single shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

    Visit Vaccine Locator or Vaccines.gov to make an appointment today to get vaccinated. If you have questions, visit DOH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions webpage or talk to your trusted health care provider. You can also call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 833-VAX-HELP. Language assistance is available.

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  • Department of Health updates isolation and quarantine guidance to align with CDC recommendation

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    Reprinted from Washington State Department of Health

    News Release

    For immediate release: December 28, 2021 (21-260)

    Contact: DOH-Communications

    Department of Health updates isolation and quarantine guidance to align with CDC recommendation

    OLYMPIA – Today, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced updates to state isolation and quarantine guidance, in alignment with the newly released recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Monday, the CDC announced the following shift in isolation and quarantine recommendations for the general public:

    • Shorten the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if they are asymptomatic on day five, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a next test confirms symptoms are not related to COVID-19.
    • Recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19
      • For unvaccinated individuals or those that are more than six months from their original mRNA dose or more than two months after the J&J vaccine and not yet boosted, CDC is recommending quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for another five days.
      • Vaccinated individuals who have received their booster do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure.
      • If symptoms do occur after exposure, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not related to COVID-19.
      • When in doubt, get tested on day five and as always, wear a mask when in public spaces after isolation or quarantine are completed. Also be mindful of activities, especially indoors and in crowded settings.

    In addition to the changes announced Monday, due to concerns about increased transmissibility of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the CDC recently updated their work restriction recommendations for healthcare personnel (HCP). DOH is also updating the guidelines for Washington to align with CDC recommendations.

    “It remains important for community members to know about changes to this guidance,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “The key remains recognizing we all have to work together to protect ourselves and those around us.”

    Vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Everyone over the age of 16 is eligible for a booster dose and should get one as soon as possible. Children over the age of five should start their two-shot series immediately. To find vaccine locations near you visit Vaccine Locator, Vaccines.gov, or call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 833-VAX-HELP. Language assistance is available.

    DOH continues to recommend limited travel and exposure to large crowds. People should get tested if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, in the state of Washington, masking is required for all individuals when indoors in accordance with the Secretary of Health’s face covering order.

    Changes to state recommendations go into effect immediately. Updates to the DOH website and other guidance documents will be completed soon.

    The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection.

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  • Public Health leaders urge the public to prepare now for a rapid surge in local COVID-19 Omicron cases

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    Reprinted from King County Public Health

    SUMMARY

    As the highly-infectious Omicron variant spreads, new data show that the numbers of new cases are rising very rapidly in our local community and across the U.S. now and will continue to rise over the next few weeks. Local public health leaders urge the King County community to prepare and do what we can during this holiday season to reduce the risk.


    STORY

    The highly infectious Omicron variant is moving at an astonishing speed, according to the latest projections. We project the number of King County cases by next week to be three-times higher than the highest peak we've seen previously in the pandemic. We expect case numbers to continue to rise in January.

    A similar pattern is expected to emerge in other parts of the United States.

    The severity of Omicron cases is not clear at this time. Most fully vaccinated people should be protected from severe infection, but we expect to see many more serious cases in unvaccinated people, as well as many milder breakthrough infections among the vaccinated.

    The rapid rise in cases has the potential to be more disruptive than previous waves, endangering the health care system's ability to care for people, as well as being a major disruptor to businesses, schools and key infrastructure, as employees become ill.

    King County residents and workplaces are urged to take steps now to reduce the risk to themselves, their families, and others in order to lower the impact of the expected surge on the health care system and the community.

    The latest projections are based on the rapid rate of spread of the Omicron variant in other countries, along with the latest local sequencing data.

    "If we do a very simple 10-day projection of this rate of growth, we should expect 2,100 daily Omicron cases in King County on December 22, 2021. This is approximately 3 times the number of cases seen at the highest point in the pandemic for King County (December 2020)," said Trevor Bedford, computational biologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

    "The biggest risk from this rapid spread of Omicron is for those who are unvaccinated," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County. "Vaccination and boosters will protect many people from severe illness given our relatively high rates of vaccine coverage in King County, but with this fast surge, we could see a rapid increase in serious cases in unvaccinated people as well as an increase in less severe breakthrough cases."

    Dr. Duchin continued, "It's best to prepare and not underestimate this virus. Now is an important time to do what we can to limit the number of people becoming ill in a short time that could overload our already stressed healthcare system, potentially compromising the care it can deliver when we need it."

    "The UW Medicine Virology Lab is testing 100 to 200 samples a day and has seen the variant quickly grow in a matter of days. Currently, more than one-third of the COVID samples we sequence are the Omicron variant," said Dr. Alex Greninger, assistant director, UW Medicine Clinical Virology Laboratory.

    Steps to prepare

    It's clear from the projections that this new wave of cases will pose new challenges that our community will need to respond to:

    • Businesses and healthcare facilities should plan for impacts on the workforce and reducing risk in the workplace.

    • Schools may also see impacts from more cases in staff and students after the winter break. Now is a good time to reinforce risk reduction measures including universal indoor masking, ventilation, and communicating that students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of illness.

    • For the public: It's important for our sense of connection and well-being to gather with friends, family, and loved ones. Please do it as safely as possible and limit the number and size of indoor gatherings if you can.

    To make things safer right now

    • Avoid crowded indoor spaces during the holiday season;

    • Limit the number of gatherings and if possible, do a rapid test the day of the gathering;

    • Gatherings will be safer in well-ventilated spaces. Open windows for fresh air;

    • Postpone travel where possible;

    • Now is the time to refresh your mask if needed. Make sure it is well-fitting and high-quality. Everyone ages 5 and older, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear masks in indoor public settings like grocery and retail stores, theaters, and entertainment establishments, and at outdoor events with 500 or more people. Masks are also recommended for everyone in crowded outdoor settings;

    • Visit Washington DOH's Vaccine Locator to get a booster appointment; and

    • Take extra precautions for higher risk people in your life.

    Steps to take if you test positive

    With the dramatic rise in cases expected over the next few weeks, more of us will test positive. We strongly urge people who test positive to:

    • Stay home, except to get medical care:
      • Take care of yourself. Get rest and stay hydrated. Take over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to help you feel better:
      • As much as you can, separate yourself from other people in your home: and
      • Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone.

    Public Health has information on steps to take if you or a family member tests positive.

  • New COVID-19 safety guidance released after multi-county outbreak linked to high school wrestling tournaments

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    Reprinted from the Washington State Department of Health

    For immediate release: December 17, 2021 (21-250)

    Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Information Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

    New COVID-19 safety guidance released after multi-county outbreak linked to high school wrestling tournaments

    OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), is updating the health and safety requirements for high contact indoor sports in the wake of a multi-school, multi-county outbreak. The outbreaks are linked to a series of wrestling tournaments held in early December and are linked to an estimated 200 COVID-19 cases. Genomic sequencing recently confirmed at least three cases are omicron.

    DOH takes these outbreaks very seriously and is changing the existing guidance by adding the following health and safety measures for all indoor, high-contact sports and activities (basketball, wrestling, water polo, and competitive cheer), effective immediately:

    • Required testing of all athletes, coaches, trainers, and support personnel, regardless of vaccination status.
    • Increased testing frequency to three times per week. Among those screening tests, at least one must occur no sooner than the day before the competition; ideally, and whenever possible, the day of the event.

    In addition, DOH wants to remind people of existing requirements for all K-12 sporting events that help keep athletes, staff, and families safer when attending these events:

    • All indoor event spectators must wear masks and should distance from other families or households to the degree possible.
    • Mask wearing is required among all athletes, coaches, trainers, and support personnel in indoor public spaces except when actively competing.
    • Referees must wear masks except when actively officiated and running.

    DOH also recognizes some of the affected local health, education, or athletic leaders are choosing to postpone or cancel sporting events or pause sporting activities in order to stop further spread of the disease. There may be differences in how these activities are handled, so we would encourage people to be patient with any potential process or scheduling changes at the local level.

    “Omicron is a game-changer, but we know layered prevention measures slow the spread of COVID-19 in sports, schools, and communities.” said Lacy Fehrenbach, Deputy Secretary for the COVID-19 response. “Please get vaccinated, boosted, wear a well-fitting mask, and maintain your distance to help our kids stay healthy, stay in the game, and stay in school.”

    “Vaccinations, in addition to testing and masking, will help keep our athletes healthy and allow everyone to continue to enjoy sporting events while also limiting the spread of disease,” said Dr. Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, Chief Science Officer. “Getting a booster will make protection against the omicron variant even stronger. The booster vaccine is now available for everyone 16 years and older.”

    The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection.


  • COVID-19 vaccine booster doses now available for all adults 18 and older

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    Reprinted from Washington State Department of Health:

    For immediate release: November 20, 2021 (21-227)

    Contact: DOH Communications

    Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Information Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

    COVID-19 vaccine booster doses now available for all adults 18 and older

    Eligibility expansion will further protect families this holiday season

    OLYMPIA - Booster doses of all three COVID-19 vaccine types are now available for everyone 18 and older. The expansion comes following recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

    At least six months after receiving both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine:

    • Adults age 50 and older, or those 18 and older living in a long-term care facility, should receive a booster dose, and
    • Those 18 through 49 may receive a booster dose.

    Everyone 18 and older who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster shot two months after getting vaccinated.

    “We want people to be as safe and as healthy as possible. Expanding booster eligibility to all adults will further protect families, especially as we gather for the holidays,” said Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH. “We know COVID-19 vaccines work, and boosters further increase immunity and protection. If you are 18 or older, and enough time has passed, I strongly encourage you to get a booster dose.”

    Booster doses are especially important for those at high risk of severe COVID-19, including older adults, people with chronic conditions, and anyone living in a congregate setting. Across Washington, more than 860,000 people have received an additional dose, which includes both booster doses and third doses. Any of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently available for use may be administered as a booster dose, regardless of which vaccine was used for the primary series.

    Everyone age 5 and older is currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. People who have not yet been vaccinated are highly encouraged to make an appointment today to protect themselves and those around them. To find a vaccine location near you, visit Vaccine Locator or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Language assistance if available.

    The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection.

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  • Vaccination verification for indoor activities and large outdoor events

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    Reprinted from King County Public Health

    People ages 12 and older are required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result to enter certain indoor and outdoor events and establishments in King County.

    This requirement will help to protect customers and workers, protect our health care system (read a statement of support from the healthcare community), and prevent business closures as the Delta variant continues to spread in King County. You can read this Public Health Insider blog post for more information, and view the Local Health Order.

    Read Governor Inslee's Large Event COVID-19 Vaccine Verification Proclamation here.

  • Children ages 5 – 11 now eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

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    Reprinted from the Washingon State Department of Health


    Pediatric vaccine will help protect children and slow disease spread across Washington

    OLYMPIA – The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now available for children 5 to 11 years old. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility following recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which reviewed data that found the vaccine to be safe and more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in younger children.

    “As a father and as a physician, I have been eagerly awaiting the day I can get my children vaccinated,” said Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH. “There are nearly 680,000 kids ages 5 to 11 in Washington. Vaccinating this younger age group will help protect them, keep students in the classroom, and bring us one step closer to ending this pandemic.”

    Across the country, COVID-19 cases in children ages 5 to 11 make up nearly 40% of all cases in adolescents 18 and younger. While it is true children often have more mild cases of COVID-19 compared to adults, they can become very sick and may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe. According to the CDC, more than 650 children under the age of 18 have died of COVID-19.

    The Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is administered as a two-dose primary series, three weeks apart. The pediatric vaccine is a smaller dose (10 micrograms) compared to the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 and older (which is 30 micrograms). Side effects reported in the clinical trial were generally mild to moderate and included sore arm, fatigue, headache, chills, fever, and nausea, with most going away within a day or two.

    COVID-19 vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. The vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children who received the vaccine and have had no serious side effects. Research shows COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone and that vaccines, even after prior infection, help prevent reinfection. Families with questions are encouraged to visit DOH’s web page VaccinateWA.org/kids for information about vaccines and kids, or to talk to their child’s health care provider.

    “This is incredible news and, as a pediatrician, I am thrilled younger children are now eligible to get immunized against COVID-19,” said Chief Science Officer Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH. “It is wonderful to think that families can take advantage of vaccination for both young and old to more safely gather during the upcoming holidays.”

    To schedule an appointment, reach out to your health care provider, your child’s pediatrician, local pharmacy, or a mobile clinic near you. As more pediatric doses arrive into the state, DOH is updating Vaccine Locator and will add an option for “Pfizer-BioNTech Pediatric” vaccine in the coming days. If you have questions or need help scheduling an appointment, call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 833-VAX-HELP. Language assistance is available.

    Due to the state’s initial limited pediatric vaccine supply of roughly 315,000 doses, during the first couple weeks families may need to reach out to more than one provider to find vaccines for their kids. Over time, supply will increase and there will be enough vaccine for all eligible children.

    The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection.


  • Is a booster shot right for me?

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    This blog was cross-posted from the Washington State Department of Health’s blog, Public Health Connection.

    Need a good news boost? Look no further than the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine boosters.

    Recently authorized by the CDC and the FDA for the Pfizer vaccine and for certain groups of people, boosters are here to protect higher risk populations from severe COVID-19 infections.

    While there’s been a lot of news about boosters in recent weeks, there’s also a lot of confusion. You may be wondering if multiple shots are necessary, regardless of your vaccination status. You may also be wondering if you’re currently eligible, or when you might be.

    Bottom line? Boosters will be important to fight COVID-19 — especially with new variants on the rise. But they’re not recommended for everyone.

    Read on to learn if you’re currently eligible for a booster, and if it’s worth considering.

    What is a booster shot?

    A booster refers to a dose of a vaccine that is given to someone who built enough protection after vaccination, but that protection decreased over time (known as waning immunity). The booster is intended to give your immunity “a boost” and provide you with increased immunity for a longer time.

    Chances are, you’ve already had many boosters in your lifetime. Boosters are effectively used in routine vaccinations to protect against diseases like chickenpox, tetanus, mumps, and measles.

    And that’s not something new to COVID-19, either. Since the COVID-19 vaccines were first introduced, scientists have acknowledged that boosters might be needed.

    Why is it necessary?

    The COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the delta variant. Still, the current vaccines decrease in protection over time, especially among high-risk populations.

    The data on the effectiveness of boosters is limited, but encouraging. Researchers found that a Pfizer booster shot increased the immune response for those who got both (Pfizer) doses six months earlier.

    Who’s currently eligible for a booster?

    You should get a booster if your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine was at least six months ago and you’re in one of the following groups:

    You should also consider a booster if you’re in one of the groups listed below, depending on your individual risk factors:

    Right now, only those who received the Pfizer vaccine are eligible for a booster dose. If you received the Pfizer vaccine and aren’t sure if you should get a booster, talk to your health care provider.

    I’m currently eligible. How do I make an appointment and what should I expect?

    You can make an appointment with your health care provider or at your local pharmacy. To find a vaccine location near you, visit Vaccine Locator or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1–800–525–0127, then press #. Language assistance is available.

    Remember to take your vaccination card with you so you can show that you already had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. If you don’t have your card, the provider can look up your record — or you can access your records using MyIR Mobile.

    You can also self-report if you are eligible for a booster. You don’t need to show proof or have a note from your doctor.

    Like the first two doses, this booster shot is provided at no cost to you. As for side effects, you can expect a similar reaction to your initial shots — with mild to moderate side effects that may last a couple of days. The most common side effects of the boosters were injection site pain, fatigue, and headache.

    Will others be eligible soon? Will I still be protected from COVID-19 without one?

    Don’t worry if it’s not your turn yet. If you’re fully vaccinated, you have effective protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death.

    There’s currently no data available about the effectiveness of boosters for other populations we haven’t mentioned. But that may change as more data becomes available through additional research.

    What about those who didn’t get the Pfizer vaccine?

    Booster doses might be recommended in the future for those who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, but right now there isn’t enough research to make that call. More research on the effectiveness and safety of these booster shots is ongoing and expected soon. In the meantime, don’t mix COVID-19 vaccines. There is very limited data about the safety and effectiveness of doing so.

    What’s the difference between a booster and a third dose?

    Though they’re often used interchangeably, there’s a distinction.

    A third dose (also known as an additional dose) is for people who are immunocompromised. Sometimes people who are immunocompromised do not build enough protection when they first get fully vaccinated. When this happens, getting another dose of a vaccine can help them build more protection against the disease.

    A booster refers to a dose of a vaccine that is given to someone who built enough protection after vaccination, but that protection decreased over time (waning immunity).

    You can learn more about the difference in the Washington State Department of Health’s recent blog.

    More information

    This blog is accurate as of the date of reposting from the Washington State Department of Health’s Public Health Connection blog. Information changes rapidly, so check the state’s COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

    Originally published on October 14, 2021.

Page last updated: 13 January 2022, 18:04