Sunday, April 18, 2021
Idaho Opens Vaccines to Those Who are Sweet Sixteen April 5
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Even the fully vaccinated are asked to keep wearing masks until more Idahoans have been vaccinated, especially given the new variants now circulating around the state.
   
Thursday, March 25, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

GRAPH BY PAUL RIES

All Idahoans 16 and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine beginning April 5—three weeks ahead of schedule.

And any Idahoan with at least one medical condition that puts them at risks for severe COVID will be able to access the vaccine beginning March 29—two weeks ahead of schedule.

 
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Idaho's numbers keep trending upwards as the state reported 425 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday for a total of 178,544. Six more Idahoans have died of COVID in the past two days, bringing the death toll to 1,952. Eleven Blaine County residents have tested positive in the past two days bringing that count to 2,234.
 

“As more and more Idahoans choose to get vaccinated, we get closer to returning to normal,” Gov. Brad Little said as he announced the decision to speed up vaccine eligibility. “The COVID vaccine really is our best shot at protecting jobs and saving lives. Please choose to receive the safe and effective vaccine.”

The governor has also signed off on recommendations to make the vaccine available for those in congregate living like the Sun Valley employee dorms or University of Idaho dorms immediately. Those 45 and older are also now eligible, a couple weeks ahead of schedule.

Eligibility was speeded up because certain parts of the state have moved through their priority groups much faster and they don’t want any vaccine wasted, said Idaho’s Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch.

“There may be some pockets of the state where there’s a wait time to get in. But there are 470 vaccine providers across the state that can help,” she said.

Health and Welfare director Dave Jeppesen agreed: “Do we think we’ll have more people than vaccines? Yes, but we have better tools and more capacity than we had when we opened to 65 and older.”

To date 396,315 of Idaho’s 1.79 million residents, or 28 percent of the population, have received at least one dose of vaccine. Of those, 247,135 people are fully vaccinated.

Sixty-five percent of those 65 and older have been vaccinated and 30 percent of those between ages 55 and 64 have been vaccinated.

Blaine County leads the counties with 44 percent of its residents having been vaccinated. Valley County and Ada County are the next highest with 38 percent and 33 percent respectively. Most other counties have vaccinated a little over 20 percent of their residents, with a hand full as low as 17 percent and 18 percent.

Little expressed his appreciation for those who have gotten vaccinated.

“You have taken one of the most important steps during our pandemic fight to protect lives and get us closer to normal. Hundreds of thousands of Idahoans have received the vaccine because it is safe and it works,” he said.

Idaho ranks above the national average for getting the shots it has into arms with an 82 percent vaccine administration rate, Little said. The Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard on Tuesday, however showed that 79.5 percent of the doses Idaho has gotten have been administered compared with 80.7 percent nationwide.

WHEN WILL THE STATE VACCINATE 70 PERCENT?

Next week the state expects to receive 90,240 doses of vaccine—well above the 20,000 weekly doses it received at first. Next week’s allocation includes 26,910 first doses of Pfizer, 15,800 first doses of Moderna and 9,500 doses of the one-shot Janssen vaccine. The Pharmacy Retail Program is expected to receive 64,520 vaccine doses, said Sarah Leeds, who oversees the state’s immunization program.

The state has enough vaccine supply for half of all Idahoans 16 and older to be fully vaccinated by April 12. It expects to have enough to have 70 percent fully vaccinated by June 16, said Jeppesen.

Rural counties are lagging slightly behind what state health officials expected when it comes to getting vaccinated and urban areas slightly ahead.

Jeppesen said more than 90,000 individuals have used the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Pre-Registration system at https://Covidvaccine.idaho.gov since it went live on March 5.

Jeppesen recommended it for 16- and 17-year-olds who are eligible only for the Pfizer vaccine, as  providers with Pfizer will be able to target those vaccines to them. It takes less than a minute to sign up, he said.  

“THE BUSY PARENT GROUP”

Idaho needs more people to get the vaccine to begin feeling comfortable, Idaho’s Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch said. “We do not want to see increased infection. We want people to do their part,” she said, stressing the need to continue to wear face masks, wash hands, distance and stay home when sick. “Remain vigilant. We’re so close.”

Jeppesen agreed that the state is in “a much better place” than a year ago as the coronavirus began rampaging across the state. The game changer, he said, was the three “very safe and highly effective” vaccines coming into the state.

A quarter of Idaho’s population is children. So, Idaho needs to have a higher percentage of adults vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, which could be anywhere from 70 to 85 percent of the population immunized.

Jeppesen said the state has identified three groups of people who either will not get the vaccine or may be slow to get it.

Those who will never get the vaccine because of their belief system are a very minority part of the state, he said. A larger group of people believe in vaccines but want to see how friends and neighbors do and what the side effects might be.

The third group is “the busy parent group,” who are supportive of vaccines but are waiting not because of safety concerns but because of convenience.

“When we talk to that group, we find many asking about the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” he said.

 


 

 

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