Sunday, April 18, 2021
Vaccine Eligibility Expands to 16-Year-Olds in April
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Steve Rosenlund, Al Eerkes and Jan Rosenlund were among those ringing bells and howling Saturday night on the anniversary of the first COVID case reported in Blaine County. PHOTO: Maija Eerkes
   
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTO BY MAIJA EERKES

GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

All Idahoans 16 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination by April 26. And those with at least one medical condition that could put them at risk for severe illness will become eligible on April12.

 
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Idaho reported 350 new cases of the virus on Tuesday for a total of 176,007. Thirteen more Idahoans have died of COVID bringing the death toll to 1,929. unfortunately, Blaine County reported five new cases after four days with zero new cases for a total of 2,206.
 

“This means that before May 1 all Idahoans will be eligible for vaccines,” said Idaho Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch. “We’re very excited about this opportunity.”

May 1 is the date President Biden had set for all Americans to be eligible for vaccines.

“Originally, we thought we wouldn’t open to everyone until the end of summer so the end of April is a significant change,” said Dave Jeppesen, director of Idaho Health and Welfare.

 Idaho’s COVID Vaccine Advisory Committee approved the plan on Monday and Idaho Gov. Brad little approved the recommendation on Tuesday

This means as many as 200,000 Idahoans could become eligible to be vaccinated every two weeks from now going forward, said Jeppesen.

Those between the ages of 55 and 64 with at least one underlying health condition became eligible to receive the vaccine on Monday. All Idahoans in that age group will become eligible on Monday, March 22.

Idahoans ages 45 to 54 with an underlying medical condition will become eligible on March 29 and the remainder in that age group the following week.

STATE IS GETTING MORE DOSES

Idaho is currently receiving 50,000 Pfizer and Modera vaccines each week. It expects to get 2,500 more one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines this week with that amount increasing over time.

Idaho has administered 525,422 doses with 328,004 people receiving vaccine and 202,520 fully vaccinated.

Blaine County continues to lead the state with 37 percent of its population, or about 7,000 residents, vaccinated. Owyhee County continues to bring up the rear with 12 percent, or 1,136 residents vaccinated.

The state is working with health districts to figure out how to reach some of those rural areas, said Shaw-Tulloch.

Already, one mobile clinic drove to Yellowpine to vaccinate its two dozen residents. Mobile vans have also gone to homeless shelters in Boise.

“We really want to promote this idea of getting the vaccine to the people because there are people who aren’t going to show up at a doctor’s office or vaccine clinics,” said State Epidemiologist Christine Hahn.

Idaho's seniors 65 and older lag behind the national average in getting vaccinated, with 60 percent of them getting a vaccine. But Jeppesen said he thinks that’s a function of undersupply and overdemand at the time they became eligible.

“We do see them continue to get vaccinated,” he said.

Jeppesen said 93 percent of Idahoans have received their second dose of two-shot vaccines within the recommend time frame. That puts Idaho in the top 10 of all states when it comes to following the prescribed regimen, above the national average of 88 percent. Only two percent have missed getting their second dose.

Shaw-Tulloch said there have been reports of some providers charging for vaccines and reminded reporters on the vaccine call that the vaccines are free.

Hahn said scientists still seem to concur that between 80 and 85 percent of people need to get vaccinated to ensure a low level of infection. That doesn’t necessarily mean 80 to 85 percent of us need to be immunized as some may have gotten immunity through natural infection, she said.

A quarter of Idahoans have gained some level of immunity through natural infection, she said.

“But we can’t rely on that because we don’t know how long it will last,” she added. “We remain optimistic. We know people who even a few months ago were hesitant about vaccine but some of those folks are saying, ‘Hey, I’m starting to get more confident.”

Most employees currently working from home believe a COVID-19 vaccine should be required before people return to the office, according to a survey done by Glassdoor. Seventy percent say they and their colleagues should be required to get the vaccine. Twenty-three percent said they would consider quitting if required to return to an office before all employees are vaccinated.

ST. LUKE’S OPENS DEDICATED VACCINATION SITE

St. Luke’s is opening a dedicated COvID-19 vaccination site in downtown Boise on Thursday. The vaccine clinic will be at 800 East Park Blvd. Vaccine appointments will be available Monday through Friday.

The one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccines will be given out on Thursday as long as there is supply. The Pfizer vaccine will be administered Mondays through Wednesdays and the Moderna vaccine on Fridays.

Eligible groups can schedule appointments at myChart or call 208-381-9500.

 

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