The amazing activity of VOSH chapters throughout the world is chronicled further by VOSH-Northwest. Superlative in its commitment and dedication, the chapter continues in the image of its long-time leader Ed Worthen who passed away much too young. VOSH-NW President Debbie McDonald submitted this short summary of the chapters startling activity ranging from Seattle to Nepal.

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VOSH NW proudly opened the Edward Worthen Memorial Clinic on April 8, 2017. This is a clinic that will be open one Saturday a month to service the Key Peninsula area. Ed Worthen was a past president of our chapter and long time Vosher. He was in the works of planning this clinic when he suddenly passed away in December, 2016. We followed through with his dream and made it a reality.

In January, 2017, we participated in the Kitsap Homeless Clinic where 75 people were seen for eye exams and glasses. This is a half-day clinic that VOSH NW has participated in for many years.

We participated in the Seattle/King County Clinic, a 4 day clinic held in the heart of Seattle, in October, performing 1219 exams and dispensing 1259 pairs of glasses.

November 2017 found our chapter traveling to Nepal where a total of 1350 people were seen over 5 days.

For 2018, a mission trip to Uganda in September is in the works, and a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in the spring of 2019 is being put together.

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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