Sunday, April 18, 2021
Vaccine Committee to Recommend Vaccines for Ages 16 to 44 while Pondering How to Reach Swahili
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Ketchum’s streets were pretty empty a year ago after the coronavirus swept across the valley.
   
Sunday, March 14, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO by KAREN BOSSICK

GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

Want to get an injection to do away with the infection?

Idahoans 55 and older with pre-existing conditions medical conditions that put them at risk for COVID-19 will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines Monday.

 
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Idaho reported 293 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, although not all health districts reported. Four more Idahoans have died of the virus for a total of 1,910.
 

Healthy Idahoans in that age group will become eligible on March 22.

Idahoans ages 45-54 with at least one medical condition will be eligible on Monday, March 29, and the general population in that age will become eligible by April 5. Those wanting a vaccine can sign up on the new state registry at https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/covid-19-vaccination. Or, go to St. Luke’s myChart, Albertsons and other pharmacies in the Wood River Valley.

Idaho’s COVID Vaccine Advisory Committee decided Friday to send a recommendation to Gov. Brad Little on the process for vaccinating those between the age of 16 and 44 by Monday, March 15.

CVAC members will vote electronically on who becomes eligible after the 55 to 64-year age group.

They’re looking at two options:

  • Option A would make Idahoans aged 16-44 with at least one medical condition that puts them at increased risk for COVID-19 illness eligible to receive the vaccine on Monday, March 15. After a period of time, all Idahoans aged 16 to 44 will become eligible.
  • Option B will more slowly roll out the eligibility group and alternate between age groups with medical conditions and age groups regardless of medical conditions.

For instance, Idahoans between the ages of 35 and 44 with at least one medical condition would become eligible for vaccine first. After a period of time—perhaps, two weeks—all Idahoans in that age range would become eligible. That process would repeat itself every couple week until everyone from 16 and up is eligible.

Only 55 percent of those 65 and older have had at least one shot of the vaccine, said Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen during the state’s weekly vaccine. Even though there are a lot of seniors eligible for the vaccine, demand has started to decline, he said.

Idaho is getting 45,000 first doses of Moderna and Pfizer a week.

The White House has challenged all 50 states to make all their adults eligible for vaccines by May 1. Alaska already has done that and Utah, Connecticut, Ohio and Michigan are moving in that direction.

The nation has administered more than 100 million doses since the vaccination campaign began in mid-December.

The vaccine push comes as the nation acknowledges a record death rate across the nation during 2020. The rate of deaths increased 15 percent, making 2020 the deadliest year in recorded U.S. history.

 

Of local concern is the Hispanic population. Hispanic people are 2.3 times as likely to die from the virus compared with white people, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Those on the CVAC committee also acknowledged Friday that they have an uphill task helping Idaho’s refugee to understand and accept vaccines, or what is known as “chanjo” in Swahili.

Many of the African languages that one might occasionally hear in the Boise and Twin Falls area, such as Swahili, Arabic, Kinyabwisha, Kinyarwandan and Bembe, are not technical and don’t use many English terms.

“We don’t have words like DNA. We don’t have words like nuclear…or cell,” Salome Mwangi with the Idaho Office for Refugees told her colleagues on the Vaccine Advisory Committee. “Should the doctor say something like ‘hypertension,’ they may not realize he’s talking about high blood pressure.”

Mwangi added that some refugees are distrustful of health officials due to past traumatic experience.

Pfizer reports that its vaccine prevented 94 percent against asymptomatic disease—a hopeful sign that fully vaccinated people will not unsuspectingly transmit COVID to the unvaccinated. The study used data from Jan. 17 to March 6 from Israel’s national vaccination campaign.

 Effectiveness from the vaccine was 97 percent effective in preventing symptomatic disease according to real-world evidence published Thursday.

To date 193,800 Idahoans of 1.79 million are fully vaccinated. Idaho has administered 509,642 doses.

In Blaine County 6,884 residents have gotten vaccinations; 4,470 are fully vaccinated.


 

 

 

 

 

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