Secretary of Health asks parents to stop and think before booking vacations

As COVID cases skyrocket in some parts of the country, driven by the more contagious variants, Washington's Secretary of Health has issued a new warning about traveling, particularly aimed at parents.

Children ages 11 and younger still aren’t eligible to get the vaccine, and popular vacation spots in our state have much lower vaccination rates when compared to our urban areas. 

Skamania County, down on the Columbia River, has a 33% vaccination rate. Lewis County, with all its vacation towns in the mountains, has a 41% vaccination rate. Kittitas County, home to Cle Elum and the popular Suncadia resort is at 47%.

Even so, the state’s top health official, Dr. Umair Shah, says you may want to hit the brakes on taking that next road trip.  

"You should ask the question, should we be taking this trip right now? And the answer may be no. the answer maybe let’s wait," Shah said.  

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Walla Walla County, a popular tourist destination, is averaging almost 300 cases per 100,000 people rivaling rates seen at the height of the pandemic.  

"Whether you’re going around the state or the country, even if you decided to take an international trip, you’ve really got to know what’s happening in that setting where you’re going," he said. 

Shah said that's especially true for parents of kids that are too young to get the vaccine.

He also says since these kids can’t get vaccinated right now, it’s important for parents to model good behavior. Even vaccinated parents should wear their masks when out in public, Shah said. 

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