FLYING HIGH WITH VOSH-CALIFORNIA
JUNE VOSH CHAPTER OF THE MONTH

For its high and sustained level of activity as well as its leadership,
VOSH-California is selected as the June VOSH Chapter of the month.

VOSH-CA President Dr. Greg Pearl submitted this report:

VOSH/CA primarily organizes campaigns with SVOSH chapters at SCCO, Western Univ. and Xochicalco Univ in Mexicali. We try to offer enough opportunities so that every optometry student can have a VOSH experience.

We conduct a Saturday clinic once a month with the Flying Samaritans organization at their clinics in Tecate and Tijuana area of Baja, Mexico. Typically we have one supervising VOSH/CA optometrist and 5-6 SVOSH members.

John Larcabal, Corina Van de Pol and I also organize about five or six weeklong campaigns to Central and South America with SVOSH members during their school vacations (i.e. Thanksgiving, Spring Break and Summer).

VOSH/CA volunteers also provide eye care at about a dozen pop-up clinics throughout California organized by California CareForce, Healing California and Care Garbor. These clinics provide homeless and low income patients with free medical, dental and vision services.

WILL YOUR CHAPTER BE NEXT?
Nominate or self nominate at:
https://voshinternational.wufoo.com/forms/q1paqnag0vy6yad/

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Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

VOSH/International recently consulted its US and International Chapters about the feasibility and timing to restart our humanitarian clinics. While the vaccination process continues with different levels of success depending on availability and acceptance, it is evident that vaccine inequity and the availability and reliability of data in several countries are issues we need to consider.

Even if already vaccinated, our chapters are still concerned about the wellbeing of our volunteers and patients.  Some chapters, are organizing clinics locally where they are better able to comply with the existing safety requirements and respective state/country regulations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is being experienced quite differently depending on state, region, country, vaccine availability, vaccine acceptance, and the spread of SARS-COV-2 variants. Most VOSH chapters are not holding clinics or traveling internationally in 2021.

Thus, VOSH/International is slightly moderating its overall guidance against clinics and travel issued in late March 2020 and renewed in January 2021. This will be reviewed and communicated on a quarterly basis.

If a VOSH Chapter choses to hold a clinic or travel internationally, we highly recommend that the chapter performs due diligence to comply fully with the requirements established by the visited country, ensures all VOSH volunteers are aware of and follow strict safety guidelines and all existing protocols and regulations of the country, and keeps the principle of “do no harm” embedded in all its decision making. As always, the wellbeing and 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. VOSH chapters in specific countries are using protocols that need to be considered as well. You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here.

*VOSH/International is formed by autonomous US and international chapters that are fully and only responsible for their activities, fundraising and decision-making.  VOSH/International can only provide recommendations based on our best knowledge and information at the time.

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 hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

July 2021