Friends, families and supporters.
 
Today, I bring good news to our community. Working with CVS over the past weeks, we have established our COVID-19 vaccination clinics beginning in just 10 short days. Finally, we have an answer to a fundamental question that’s been asked of us for weeks: When do folks JFGH supports get their vaccinations? The process begins in ten days! Our advocacy worked. Thank you so much to everyone who reached out to Governors Larry Hogan (MD) and Ralph Northam (VA) on our behalf. Our voices were heard!
 
The vaccine to be administered is the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, so there will be 21 days between doses. If everything goes to plan, I would expect all of the people we support as well as all of our staff to be vaccinated and fully protected from the virus by end-of-March. Consistent with the research literature and science, this allows approximately 4 weeks after the second doses to fully develop the antibodies triggered by the vaccine.
 
On Monday, 11 January, our staff, classified in both Virginia and Maryland as essential healthcare workers, began receiving their vaccine doses as well. As of late yesterday, about 65% of our staff have either received their first dose or are scheduled to. We are grateful to Montgomery County in Maryland and Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in Virginia for their efforts in administering the vaccine to our staff.
 
We would all be forgiven for being a bit giddy with the vaccine news and progress. I hope you’ll forgive me being a bit of a wet blanket.
 
Rates of infection continue to rise dramatically in most parts of the country. While we’ve seen a slight but encouraging dip in case counts in recent days, the virus is nowhere close to being contained. We must stay alert and committed to simple precautions to prevent spread: Wear a mask whenever in the presence of others, wash your hands well and frequently, and keep your distance. We are reading about new variants of the virus, mutations that have the virus evolving before our eyes. Putting the science simply, the greater the spread, the greater and faster the evolution of the virus. Is it possible that the virus could evolve beyond the efficacy of the vaccines? Yes. And, that should snap all of us out of any complacency.
 
The vaccines work. They’re safe and they’re effective. But, we must continue to do everything in our power to stop the spread. There is an almighty drag race between the spread of the virus and its variants and the impact of the vaccine. The trump cards we hold? Masks. Hand hygiene. And, physical/social distancing. To steal a phrase, just do it.
 
February ushers in two causes that are important to JFGH: Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM) and Black History Month. Both are dedicated to not just raising awareness to these communities, but also to calls for action and support for communities too long disenfranchised, too casually and easily marginalized. We will hold activities through the month that highlight our fight for the fullest expression of the civil and human rights of Jews with disabilities and Black Americans who have made our community, our region, our country and our world far better than would have otherwise been possible. Details to come!
 
Next week, please join me on Thursday, 28 January, for our Facebook Live update
 
As ever, thanks for your support. Stay safe. Stay healthy. We got this.

 
David

David Ervin, JFGH CEO, dervin@jfgh.org