We have some of the best clients in the world who tend to be smart and compassionate. You've been really terrific throughout the pandemic. I can't tell you how much we really appreciate your supportive respect for the mitigations that have allowed us to follow the science and still remain open. As we move from drop-off-only to welcoming in-person appointments, we're going to keep masking indoors.
We want this to be a safe place for everyone, especially those who are literally immunocompromised. We have a duty to protect the vulnerable among our client community and staff by wearing masks and keeping current on booster shots. If you're vax'ed and boosted, then wearing a mask indoors is, indeed, a kindness – and we appreciate it.
We will also continue to offer drop-off as an appointment option, particularly since some folks feel that an enclosed exam room poses more risk during the winter surge than makes them comfortable. For everyone else, we hope the indoor masking policy provides a comfortable level of reasonable protection.
Secondly, this winter is different. The triple whammy of upper respiratory viruses this year is worrying health care providers. Recently, the rate of Covid infection in California jumped 36% in a single week, typically a precursory rate to a surge.
In addition, this year’s flu virus is leading to more hospitalizations than normal, and hitting much earlier in the season than normal. Masks help us avoid Covid and flu viruses as well as the current outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), for which there is no vaccine currently. It's a simultaneous triple whammy that poses a significantly increased concern this winter.
For these reasons, we will continue to require indoor masking throughout the winter.
The good news is the virus match with the current flu vaccine this year is excellent. The county health department has asked us (and encourage you) to help spread the word to get protected. Nationally, only 10% of young kids are fully immunized for COVID and flu, and hospitals are filling up with sick kids.
Kids and older adults are most vulnerable to Covid, RSV and flu so please help them get boosters and wear well fitting masks in crowded indoor settings. County-shared data show that cloth masks do not work very well. They advise, at minimum, a surgical style mask should be used, but the most effective is a well-fitting KN95 or N95 respirator style mask.
San Mateo County Health offers updated, bivalent boosters, which are effective against both the original strain of the virus and the Omicron variants, at its community clinics. Advance appointments are not required, but available, on MyTurn. Updated boosters and flu vaccines are also available from primary health care providers and pharmacies, such as Walgreens, CVS and others.
We encourage you to protect your families, help spread the word, and are tremendously grateful for your continued support of our indoor masking policy. Most of all, we hope everyone has a safe, healthy holiday season, and stays safe and healthy all winter long.