I wanted to share a little background on how the VOSH volunteer board and committees work. Since we’re all scattered in different states and Canada, we hold monthly board meetings via conference call. Throughout the month, there are various additional calls between various board members, committee chairs and volunteers to plan, implement and manage the wide variety of tasks and projects that VOSH is involved in.

In June many of us gathered in Boston for a face-to- face meeting during the American Optometric Association (AOA) meeting. As President of VOSH/International, I was asked to present to the American Optometric Student Association Trustee’s and Trustee-Elects. In addition, VOSH and the AOA held a joint student reception to recognize our student volunteers and the awesome job they are doing. Much thanks to the AOA Board of Trustees for taking the time out of their very busy week to mingle with VOSH.

Thanks also to the New England College of Optometry for their generous donation of their board room at the NECO Institute Center for our meeting. It’s so productive when our dedicated group of volunteers can sit in a room together. It was a busy, fast paced, productive meeting. Some of the discussion topics included branding VOSH, chapter benefits, dues, our relationship with Optometry Giving Sight, the website, legalities, our student intern program, fundraising, TTP, and VOSH Corps. Many objectives were accomplished and new goals set. As President I want to express my appreciation for those that donated their time, effort and expense to attend this meeting.

Ellen L. Weiss, OD, FVI, President

Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

Due to an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 infections, a new variant that is more contagious, and these being early days in the vaccination distribution, VOSH/International DOES NOT recommend that chapters participate in domestic or international eye and vision clinics at this time.

We reiterate that at a time when the coronavirus continues to spread quickly in many parts of the world and vaccinations are not yet available to local populations, the risk of close contact with patients in a crowded outpatient environment remains high.

If a VOSH Chapter or VOSH volunteer chooses to hold a clinic against our best guidance, this is done at your own risk, by your own decision and should be in line with current local/national government rules.  VOSH/International would like to reiterate that safety for VOSH volunteers and our patients is of utmost importance and central to any decision-making process.

We have published our updated clinic guidelines with best practices to be observed in this new context.  You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here

Also please keep checking the following sites with official and most recent updates:

World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

US CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/when-to-delay-travel.html

US Government Travel Advise: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

Thank you for your patience in these unprecedented times, hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

January 2021