San Juan County and vaccinations | Letter

Recently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/University of Wisconsin published the county health rankings for states. The rankings were based on health outcomes and health factors (see countyhealthrankings.org for comprehensive view).

In Washington State, San Juan County ranked number one and number two respectively, thanks in part to the lifestyle choices that we as citizens have made, as well as the diligent efforts of our Health and Community Services Administration. More recently, San Juan County became the first county in the state to reach the goal of ~74% vaccination rate of our eligible islanders, which is quite an accomplishment.

We would be remiss if we didn’t thank HCS staff (Mark Tompkins, Director; Kyle Dodd, Manager of Environmental Health; Ellen Wilcox, Manager of Healthy Communities; Dr. Frank James, Public Health Officer, and all of their staff members, as well as the many volunteers who assisted in the vaccination efforts). Although we’ve had a recent increase in cases in our county, protection from the vaccine, as well as masks, social distancing and avoiding indoor crowds, are the best deterrents against acquiring the disease.

For those of you who are hesitant or resistant to getting the vaccine, speak to your doctor, or visit CDC.gov where you can find reliable information so that you can make an informed decision. Remember, when you get vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself, but you are protecting others.

With the increasing number of variants (now above 50%), with its increasing transmissibility, it becomes even more important. The variant mutation only occurs when the virus has infected humans, so preventing that infection, decreases the risk of new variants and new cases. Let us all commit to doing what we can to eliminate a virus that has impacted so many of our lives, so we can return to normalcy.

Dale Heisinger, MD, Chair,

Noel Monin,

John Geyman, M.D.,

Christine Minney,

Jaimie Stephens,

Cindy Wolf,

and Kyle Davies

San Juan County Board of Health