Bertha Cooper

Think About It: A shot in the arm

Of all the news coming out of Sequim, the best news is we are well into providing initial doses of COVID vaccine Moderna thanks to Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe/Jamestown Family Health Clinic, Clallam County Fire District 3, Sequim Police/Public Works, Community of Emergency Response Teams and a myriad of volunteers willing to get up before dawn two or three times a week until it’s done.

I caught up with Brent Simcosky, Jamestown’s director of health services, who gave me the background on what has become a massive community COVID-19 vaccination program.

Simcosky began by telling me that Jamestown stepped up to the task because Jamestown is the largest primary care provider in East Clallam County. He went on, “We felt we had a responsibility to vaccinate our patients and create a safe bubble around our tribal community.”

Reflect on that statement for a moment.

We’ve heard a lot about safe bubbles starting with our own safe bubble in our households to which many of us have made a commitment to protect each other. National basketball teams created safe bubbles so they could play a season, again making a commitment to protect each other. Jamestown is set on nothing less that doing its part to make Sequim community a safe bubble community starting with its tribal citizens, their 17,000 plus patients who are older than 60 and Sequim health care workers.

Once started, they opened the criteria to include the broader community.

Simcosky commented that the tribe’s status as a sovereign tribal government allowed it some flexibility to broaden their initial patient targets and delivery methods. They expanded the guidelines to 70 years of age and above and all health care workers in Sequim including police and ambulance drivers.

They work in collaboration with Dr. Allison Berry, Clallam County health officer, and are currently in discussions about how and when to move to essential workers. They are also working with the health department to provide in home vaccinations for those who are homebound.

Jamestown Health Services are moving as fast as they can and learning as they go. Simcosky recognizes the high demand and looking back thinks they might have started with 85 years and above to ease the difficulty of that population waiting it out in cars in the early morning. Now they have a computerized appointment system supplemented by a phone number for those without a computer, but both quickly fill the appointment schedule.

Jamestown patients are offered the vaccine on regular appointments but the clinic will not schedule an appointment for just the vaccine. Simcosky asks people to respect the limit because they need clinic appointment slots for people requiring medical care.

Jamestown Health Services may be the hub of ordering and maintaining the vaccine supply and delivering it into arms but Simcosky emphasizes that none of that would be possible without the support and effort of the City of Sequim, its police and public works staff, Fire District 3 personnel, CERT-trained volunteers, all volunteers and Trinity United Methodist Church.

Indeed, it takes a community to create a safe bubble community. So far, Jamestown is getting the needed supply of vaccine. If that continues, they plan to vaccinate more than 25,000 arms by the first week of May.

Simcosky sums it up this way, “In the end, it is about protecting our community, creating a safe community and beginning to reopen businesses, schools and offices again.”

The dark side of the sun

Not everyone agrees with the sentiment. Allow me to darken this spirit of community with the cold reality that we still have among us people who refuse to do their part to protect themselves and those with whom they have contact. They have chosen to infect or prick, if you will, the safe community bubble.

The fact of the coronavirus is that it is highly contagious.

The fact of COVID-19, the disease of Coronavirus, is it can result in mild symptoms from feeling nothing to enormous suffering and death.

The fact of caring for those seriously ill with COVID-19 is that it is at best exhausting physically and emotionally and at worse being the witness to the unnecessary deaths of thousands upon thousands of people.

The fact of the coronavirus is that it is constantly mutating as it finds new humans to infect and in them the opportunity to mutate.

Reflect on that statement for a moment.

An exposed person who contracts COVID-19 might not have symptoms but could well give birth to a more serious virus strain that could render our vaccinations less effective.

Our world is already churning out coronavirus mutations.

Pandemic deniers fueled by opportunistic elected officials have pride in going mask-less and gathering in groups of the same. They have no conscience about becoming vectors of death. Our businesses must deal with their bad behavior and righteous indignation. Some of the more egregious behaviors include threats to persons and businesses. I know one incident that resulted in the arrest of the insolent man without the mask for assault.

I have no idea if these same vectors of death are getting vaccinated. Logic would tell us they won’t but then, in my opinion, logic has not been a feature of their reasoning when it comes to masks and social distancing. Why would they resort to logic around getting vaccinated or not?

Yes, I am more than annoyed with this group of prideful people who deliberately step in front of efforts to achieve a safe community bubble that allows the opening of businesses, school, offices, friend and family gatherings.

It is an extraordinarily self-destructive act of pride. We must understand that the destruction of safety bubbles will keep the much-desired herd immunity out of reach.

Bertha Cooper, a featured columnist in the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation. Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at columnists@sequimgazette.com.

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