News of a COVID-19 vaccine is everywhere; however, as news often goes, so does misinformation. It is important to have trusted and current facts.
Millions of vaccine doses must be manufactured and delivered. As you may have heard, storage and transport can be tricky. One vaccine must be transported and stored at ultra-cold temperatures (negative 112 degrees Fahrenheit). Wow—that is very cold!
Additionally, this will take time. Doctors tell us that 75 percent to 85 percent of people will need to be vaccinated to end the pandemic. We know that everyone is anxious to reconnect with family and friends; however, until everyone can be together again safely, all of us must carry on with protective measures:
- Always wear a mask outside of your home.
- If you are at high risk, reduce your exposure. Shop at less busy times, avoid crowds, or ask someone to shop for you.
- Maintain at least six feet distance from anyone outside your household.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds often, and especially upon returning home from outside. Don’t forget your thumbs!
- If you are in a high-risk category and you feel sick, stay home and call your health care provider. You may be directed to get a COVID test if you have symptoms or you have been exposed to someone who tests positive.
There is a new tool that works through smartphones—the Washington Exposure Notifications app (also known as WA Notify). This app alerts users if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. The app doesn’t share any personal information but can track where you go. It’s completely private.
If you have an iPhone, go to Settings, scroll down to Exposure Notifications and turn the feature on. Android phones can download the WA Notify app in the Playstore. This can be a powerful tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19, until wide-spread vaccine use can end the pandemic. As of mid-December, more than 1.5 million Washington state residents had already activated WA Notify. Learn more here.
For information on how and when the vaccine will be available to groups of people in Washington state, check the Washington State Department of Health website. You can also check the Public Health—Seattle & King County COVID website.
So, continue to stay strong and carry on—we’ll get through this together!
Contributors Deborah Witmer and Mary Pat O’Leary, RN, BSN are both on staff at Seattle Human Services. Deborah is the Vulnerable Populations Planning Coordinator on the department’s Emergency Management Team. Mary Pat is a planner in the Aging and Disability Services division.