Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Health Officials Fret Over Youth as Blaine County Continues to Lead Vaccine Effort
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Hailey resident Carol Waller photographed this charming social distancing message at the Lazy Lizard restaurant in Caye Caulker, Belize. “It was a great trip. Grateful to have been able to do it. Thank you, vaccine!” she said.
   
Friday, June 4, 2021
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTO BY CAROL WALLER

Despite Blaine County’s outstanding showing at vaccination clinics, Idaho has missed it first vaccine goal.

Only 74.9 percent of those 65 and older have been fully vaccinated so far—short of the 80 percent state health officials had sought to vaccinate by June 1. That said, 86 percent have received at least one dose.

 
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Idaho reported 152 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday--its daily totals have been around 150 to 250 this past week. Eleven Idahoans have died of COVID this past week, bringing the toll to 2,101. Blaine County gained three new cases this past week for a total of 2,388.
 

The state has a little catch-up to do to meet President Biden’s goal of having 70 percent of adult Americans vaccinated by July 4, as well. It's in the bottom 10 states dispensing vaccinations. As such, it's a sitting duck for a COVID outbreak, Dr. Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health told CNN on Thursday.

To date 45.1 percent of Idahoans 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine; 39.8 percent are fully vaccinated. That places Idaho at the bottom--below the national average of about 60 percent.

In contrast, Blaine County continues to lead the way in Idaho with 81 percent of its residents vaccinated. Valley County is second with 56 percent; Ada County, 55 percent, and Teton County, 52 percent.

Health officials say they’ve seen their vaccine efforts stall, falling to their lowest level since last winter when only health workers and nursing home residents were able to get vaccinated.

The peak came in March and April with 11,000 Idahoans getting vaccinated a day. It has averaged between 2,000 and 3,000 per day since mid-May, and the state has been turning down as much as 75 percent of the vaccines being offered it.

There was an uptake in the number of first doses dispensed right after those ages to 12 to 15 became eligible. But, already, the state is seeing declines among that age group, Dr. Christine Hahn told reporters at a recent COVID briefing.

“We're very worried with school about to let out. Getting vaccines is the last thing on anybody's mind when it's summer, and we're very concerned that people will lose their interest in this, and we have a lot of work to do before school starts," she added. 

"We encourage parents to strongly consider choosing to vaccinate your children 12 years and older," said Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen. "Doing so before school starts in the fall will greatly increase the chances that school can return to normal."

IS THERE A VACCINE LOTTERY IN IDAHOANS’ FUTURE?

Ohio’s $1 million vaccine lottery, which used federal dollars for prizes, boosted its vaccination rate by 45 percent.

And Oregon announced its initiative on May 21. Everyone 18 and older who has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by June 27 will be eligible to win a $1 million drawing on June 28. One person in each of Oregon’s 36 counties will also win $10,000, and those younger than 18 have a chance to win one of five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarships.

Kroger is now offering a million dollars to five vaccinated winners, along with 50 chances to win free groceries for a year. United Airlines is offering a year’s worth of roundtrip tickets to wherever it flies, and West Virginia is offering shotguns and rifles, in addition to other prizes.

Asked whether the state might offer lottery prizes as incentives to get vaccinated, Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch said that nothing is off the table.

But, in the meantime, vaccinated Idahoans will have to be content with Krispy Kreme’s offer of a free donut a day for vaccinated Americans or Anheuser-Busch’s promise to buy Americans 21 and older a round of beer once Biden’s goal is met.

BLAINE COUNTY REMAINS AT MODERATE RISK

Blaine County remained at moderate risk for contracting the coronavirus, according to Harvard Global Institute metrics.

The county averaged 3.7 new cases of virus per 100,000 residents between May 23-29. That’s slightly up from 3.1 new cases the week before. Its test positivity rate increased to 2.16 percent, up from 0.69 percent.

There were two new cases each among those between 30 and 39 and 14 and 17 years of age. There was one new case reported of someone 70 or older and one among those 40 and 49.

MANDATES MOUNT

More than 400 of the nation’s 4,000 colleges are mandating that students receive a COVID-19 vaccine to return to in-person classes. Some are even offering cash, swag and tuition-free courses as incentives.

Most universities already require students to be inoculated against measles, meningitis and other diseases.

U.S. companies can mandate that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says.

In one case, a manager at Houston Methodist hospital was fired after he refused to get vaccinated. The hospital had offered a $500 bonus for employees who got vaccinated.

At least five hospital groups now mandate the vaccine, citing the importance of employees being vaccinated to protect cancer, organ transplant and other vulnerable patients.

NOVEL WAYS TO HAND OUT VACCINE

New Jersey is offering Shots at the Shore—vaccination sites on the beach. New York City stationed vaccine buses at Brighton Beach, the Rockaways, Central Park and other beaches and parks over Memorial Day Weekend.

CAMP ADVICE

Centers for Disease Control has said that fully vaccinated youth may forego masks indoors and outside at summer camps this summer.

Those who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks outside when in crowds or in close contact with others. And they should continue to wear masks inside, the CDC says.


 

 

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