If you are like me, it feels like 2020 was a long time ago. Every day in the pandemic feels like a month, and getting through this first month of 2021 has felt like a year. I expect you are all feeling some of this, as the uncertainty as to when there will be adequate vaccine has likely left you anxious and weary. Our resilience is being tested…yet I know islanders are strong.

I realize that asking for patience is not what people want to hear right now, and you want the security in knowing you are on a list, in a system, somehow on a path to get the vaccine by a date certain. We all wish that was possible, and hope that in time we will get there. For now, there continues to be much higher demand than supply, and from week to week there is no guarantee what we will get in spite of what is requested. Every provider who has been approved to receive vaccine, which on Orcas is the County and OFHC, is doing their best to request supply from the State. The UW Clinic is going to be allocated a supply from within their system; however, we were told that the entire UW Medicine system did not receive a vaccine allocation last week and wasn’t expecting anything this week.

Up until now, the County has been the only vaccine provider with supply. Their online scheduling for Friday events on Orcas filled up within minutes of opening. Again, this is driven by the significant demand and very limited supply, which I know is very frustrating to everyone. As the supply allows, the County hopes to eventually conduct vaccine events on Mondays and Fridays, increasing to 200 prime/200 booster doses per week. OFHC is also hoping to start with 100 doses/week once they receive their first supply. Their preparations are underway, and they are reaching out to their patients to talk about how they will go about scheduling. The UW Clinic hopes to begin a vaccine effort on Orcas sometime the week of February 8th – 13th. They are planning to deliver 100 vaccines/week and are in the process of building a phone system to be used for scheduling. In addition, all three entities will be reaching out to patients without internet access to make sure a certain number of slots are held for those community members. Finally, Ray’s Pharmacy has started the process to become an approved vaccine provider, and once approved we’ll have another avenue for vaccine distribution.

In addition to the uncertainty about the vaccine, we recognize there is a lot of change underway in health care on Orcas. For those of you who have only started to engage following recent announcements by two UW providers, I would like to ask that you take a few minutes to read my latest update, which can be found HERE. It provides an overview of how/why we got to this point and what the future holds for our community. There are also comments from a few of the community’s most trusted leaders, and I think those are voices that are helpful to hear. As always, I am available to talk with any community member who has questions or would like to provide input.

With sincere appreciation and service to the community, Superintendent Presson