Sunday, March 7, 2021
Vaccines Already Appear to Be Having a Positive Effect
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Henry Gorman masks up at Galena Lodge.
   
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

Those 65 and older are still on schedule to begin receiving vaccines in early February. Idaho is still getting the necessary second doses to complete a vaccination, despite rumors that second doses won’t be available.

And the vaccines seem to be having a positive effect already, said State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn.

 
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Idaho reported 1,224 new cases of coronavirus on Monday for a total of 156,778. Thirty more Idahoans have died for a total of 1,637 deaths
 

Hospitals, who were the first in line for the vaccines, say they have seen fewer staff out sick since health care workers were vaccinated. And those who are fully vaccinated won’t need to quarantine if they’re exposed to someone with COVID, said Hahn.

Idahoans aged 65 and over are included in the next phase of the vaccine rollout, which is scheduled to being in early February, even though other states said they’d push theirs back after learning last week that promised doses weren’t forthcoming.

More than 500,000 Idahoans are included in that group, which follows the teachers and other frontline essential workers currently being vaccinated.

And the state has been assured by the new administration that there will be second doses for every first dose administered said Sarah Leeds, who heads up Idaho’s immunization program.

 
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Blaine County recorded 27 more cases of coronavirus on Tuesday for a total of 1,752
 

To date 58,549 Idahoans have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 10,762 have received both doses.

At least 1,004 Blaine County residents have received one dose of vaccine so far and St. Luke’s Wood River has scheduled two more clinics this week for teachers and first responders. Twelve Blaine County residents have received two doses.

Only Ada, Twin Falls, Bonner, Kootenai, Bonneville and Bannock counties have administered more doses, with Ada County administering 16,005 so far.

The state has received 163,957 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines so far and expects to receive 20,950 doses a week for the time being.

Idaho ranked in the bottom 10 among states, according to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control on Friday. At that time, the state had administered just 23 percent of its available doses and vaccinated only 1.2 percent of the population.

But Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen told reporters Tuesday afternoon that the state’s capacity is increasing, with the state administering 48 percent more doses last week over the previous week.

North Idaho recently held a mass vaccination event at the fairgrounds. Mobile clinics are going to sites in other locales.

“There has been a learning curve for providers learning how to handle this, but that capacity is increasing quite rapidly now,” he said, noting that the state expects to get vaccines in arms within seven days of receiving them. “We expect it to go north of 20,000 a week. Just in the last 48 hours we’ve administered 9,000 doses.”

States that administer more vaccines do not get more vaccine doses, contrary to scuttlebutt going around. Allocations are supposedly based on population.

But Idaho has received a disproportionately lower share of vaccine compared to other states because the government is not allocating vaccine on a per capita basis, as it said would be done.

Gov. Brad Little said Tuesday that he will increase the number of Idaho National Guard members helping with the state’s coronavirus response from 250 to 400 in order to help with the vaccine distribution.

The state also has received new grants for healthcare providers to more quickly administer the vaccine. Thee grants will enable the providers to increase staffing and purchase needed equipment and supplies. The grant amounts will be based on the number of doses the provider provides.

“The biggest sentiment is that we need more vaccine. And we love the fact that people are clamoring for it,” said Shaw-Tulloch.

Shaw-Tulloch said the state is still working on a new online scheduling tool called PrepMod that will allow Idahoans to sign up for vaccines and have clinics notify them when they become available. Shaw-Tulloch said there are still issues that need to be resolved, including the certainty that the tool will meet the state’s needs.

She added that the state hopes to have the tool ready to go by the end of this month for the over-65 population to use.

Shaw-Tulloch said it takes about a week from the time the state learns how many doses to expect for the week to the time providers are ready to put those doses in arms.

The state learns from the federal government how many doses to expect on Tuesday and confirms it with the federal government the next day. It examines the population estimates that communities are vaccinating—say, the number of teachers in Blaine County—and authorizes the number of doses for local communities based on the number of people in those groups.

Thursday through Sunday the state works with health districts and providers to finalize its plan, and manufacturers ship doses directly to the providers based on the plan. On Monday the state places another order with the government.

“So, every week that process repeats itself,” said Shaw-Tulloch.

Hahn acknowledged that some people have had adverse reactions to the vaccines. A few have had rashes. One had trouble breathing similar to an asthma attack, but that was remedied quickly with the help of an inhaler.

Most hospital staff have wanted the vaccine, she said.

“We know we’ll never achieve 100 percent,” she added. “Some may defer until later after they’ve seen how it worked with others.”


 

 

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