Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Those 65 and Older Have a Shot at an Earlier Vaccine
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St. Luke’s Wood River is getting the Moderna vaccine since its storage requirements are more forgiving that Pfizer’s vaccine.
   
Saturday, January 9, 2021
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTO BY JOY PRUDEK

COVID GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

If you’re between the ages of 65 and 75, you could be looking at getting a shot in the arm earlier than first forecast.

 
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Idaho reported 1,085 new cases of coronavirus on Friday for a total of 148,258. It recorded another 1,067 new cases the day before. Thirty-five more Idahoans have died in the past two days for a total of 1,523 deaths.
 

The Idaho COVID-19 Advisory Committee on Friday decided to recommend that the state include those 65 and older in its second phase of COVID vaccinations.

The 25-7 decision overrides Centers for Disease Control guidance, which recommends that those 75 and older and essential workers, such as law enforcement officers, grocery store workers and teachers get the vaccine after front-line health care workers and nursing home staff and residents.

“At 65 the hospitalization rate increases, mortality increases,” said Dr. David Peterman, CEO of Primary Health Medical Group in the Treasure Valley. “I believe our job is to keep people away from the hospital.”

The new recommendations have been passed to Idaho Gov. Brad Little who will review them and decide whether to approve or decline them. Little got an earful from seniors pushing for those between the ages of 65 and 75 to be included in the next tier on his weekly AARP conference call this week.

 
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Blaine County has recorded two dozen new cases of COVID-19 in the past two days for a total of 1,605.
 

He and the state are also the subject of a lawsuit filed by an 87-year-old Rogerson man who wants the state to put those 65 and older at the front of the line. Some other states already have those 65 and older in their second tier of vaccinations.

It’s hoped the next phase of vaccinations will start in February. Little said this week he hoped that vaccinations for 130,000 health care workers and nursing home staff and residents would be done by the end of January.

So far, 28,194 doses have been administered—nearly 2,000 of those doses being booster shots. To date   26,806 Idahoans have received, including 7,000-plus St. Luke’s employees. The first St. Luke’s employees to receive the Pfizer vaccines three weeks ago began getting their booster shots on Friday.

Idaho has received 100,000 doses so far.

St. Luke’s employees were so excited to get their vaccines that a number of staff, including chief medical officer Dr. Jim Souza, pitched in to help the first weekend vaccines were offered, said Scott Milner, St. Luke’s senior director of Pharmacy. And those due for booster shots have been compliant about scheduling them.

“Employees are breaking down the doors to get vaccines,” said Dr. Laura McGeorge, medical director for Primary and Specialty Care at St. Luke’s.

McGeorge said St. Luke’s hopes to begin vaccinating people like first responders, who are not St. Luke’s employees, later this month.

“I do think we will see an acceleration of rollout across state. We do not want to see vaccines sit in refrigerators. We want to get them in arms. We just want to do so safely,” she said.

 McGeorge said there have been few reactions among St. Luke’s employees beyond sore arms and, occasionally, a little fatigue and muscle aches. Those are common complaints with vaccines, she said, and they show the vaccines are working.

Fewer than six people in a thousand are suffering any kind of reaction, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Only .4 per thousand people are suffering severe reactions.

“My arm was a little sore for a few days, but that was a happy sore because I got the vaccine,” she said, adding that those getting vaccinations are monitored for 15 minutes afterwards in case they suffer allergic reactions. “The fact that we have incredibly effective vaccines in under a year is phenomenal.”

Nationwide 29 percent of those who work in health care are hesitant to get the shot, according to a December poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only 14—or half--of the staff at Silvercreek Living in Hailey have accepted the vaccine.

Peterman said 63 percent of the healthcare workers Primary Health Medical Group is involved with are getting the vaccine. It’s believed many of those who are hedging will eventually decide to get vaccinated as they see co-workers do well.

Dr. David McClusky III (he is now Chief of Medical Staff at SLWR and is a general surgeon)

“We have had people experience side-effects but, to my knowledge, we have not seen anything that is unique or has not already been reported in the studies evaluating these vaccines,” said Dr. David McClusky II, a general surgeon and the new chief of medical staff at St. Luke’s Wood River. “We look forward to continuing to offer this vaccination service as more people become eligible.  As always, we will continue to take every precaution to ensure that it is administered safely and that our monitoring process follows recommended guidelines.”

McClusky noted that the CDC follows up with those receiving the vaccine to learn more about what type of side effects are experienced and the impact, if any, on the person’s daily life.

“It’s one of best follow up efforts we have seen and will be valuable as we move forward,” he added.

McClusky said the soreness he felt in his arm was similar to that he feels when he gets a flu shot.

“I see multiple people per day, including people with COVID, and getting the vaccine gives me a sense of security.  If I get sick and need to quarantine, it would limit our ability to care for patients and that is another reason I chose to get vaccinated. I would encourage those at risk to get the vaccine when available.”

St. Luke’s Wood River will begin assisting with vaccinating community members in the near future, confirmed Joy Prudek, public relations manager for the hospital.

When vaccines are available, scheduling will be done through the hospital system’s MyChart. This is not a waitlist. Appointments will be scheduled only when one's tier opens. Health officials are still working out the details of how people will be notified that they may get the vaccine.

Prudek said the hospital is encouraging people to sign up for MyChart at www.mychart.slhs.org as that is how they will be scheduled when time for the vaccine comes up. Those who do not speak English or do not have access to technology, can call St. Luke’s Connect at 208-381-9500.

 “This is going to be a very long deliberate process to get the bulk of people in the United States vaccinated,” said McGeorge. “In the meantime, we’re going to have to do everything we can to avoid getting the virus, including wearing masks, distancing and not attending gatherings. I will get my booster this weekend and I will continue wearing masks and distancing for the time being.”

 

~  Today's Topics ~


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