County case count hits 46; vaccines to be available
December 17, 2020
By Diana Zimmerman
As of Wednesday, there were 46 confirmed cases of covid-19 in Wahkiakum County, with two new cases added in the past week and 870 tests conducted.
Cowlitz County has had 2,088 cases, with 1,006 considered active. They are reporting 18 deaths due to covid-19.
Pacific County has had 509 positive cases, with 47 currently considered active. They are reporting three deaths related to covid-19.
Across the river in Columbia County, they have had 610 cases, with 55 currently considered infectious. They are reporting seven deaths. In Clatsop County, they are reporting 473 cases, with 171 considered active, and two deaths.
“We haven’t seen a Thanksgiving bump here locally,” Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Chris Bischoff said on Monday. “There hasn’t been as much of one in Clark, Cowlitz, or Pacific, and that is an awesome thing.
"Our county was about a week behind, so before I really want to say we didn’t get a bump, I’ll want to wait till next Monday.”
Statewide and throughout the United States was a different story, he noted, where numbers were trending up.
“Cases are up, deaths are up; hospitalizations are up,” Bischoff said. “Washington State’s hospitalizations are up, so we are mirroring the nation in that.”
He cited a comparative study of new tests per day and the positivity rate.
“It is way too high,” Bischoff said, “which is a strong indication that there is a lot of covid-19 that is undiagnosed, and means that the potential danger is still very high going into the Christmas and New Years holidays.”
On Monday, a member of the medical community in New York became the first person in the US to receive a vaccination following an Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer vaccine. According to Bischoff, Washington State would start receiving doses the same day, and have over 200,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of December.
“We’ll see what happens with Moderna,” Bischoff said of the other expected vaccine. “Their decision would not be until the end of this week at the earliest, whether or not they will be given an EUA.”
Anaphylactic reactions to the vaccine
“I think there were two nurses in the United Kingdom who had really severe reactions to the vaccine,” Bischoff said. “They both carried EpiPens, so that means they have really severe reaction to some things.”
“Essentially, the Centers for Disease Control is saying at this point, if you have allergies to things, but you generally don’t have anaphylactic reactions, then it should be safe for you. If you do have anaphylactic reactions, and specifically to vaccines, you might want to sit this one out. In either case, talk to your doctor,” Bischoff said. “Your doctor needs to be the one who directly counsels you on vaccinations and any other medical decisions.”
Right now they are thinking the vaccine is okay for most folks, depending on why you are immunocompromised, Bischoff said.
“This is not a live vaccine or a dead vaccine and so the thought is that it is not dangerous to people who are immunocompromised,” he said. “There isn’t a lot of data on that, so you’ll need to be closely monitored.”
He continued to advise following doctor counsel.
“The vaccine was specifically not tested on pregnant people,” Bischoff said, “so talk to your doctor. If you are pregnant, it does not bar you from getting the vaccine. There is a whole host of things that go with that, say if you are breast feeding, those kinds of things. The CDC, under emergency use, feels that those are probably safe, they just haven’t been highly tested so, it’s going to be up to the individual to talk to their doctor and make that determination.”
“When we are talking about safety, I ’m talking about whether this will cause you a permanent illness or potentially kill you,” Bischoff said. “Other than this anaphylactic issue, no, it’s safe. But it is not side effect free. The side effects do not seem to be higher than other immunizations.”
Bischoff listed off some of the standard side effects, like a general achy feeling for a couple days, a sore arm, or some localized swelling.
Timing of doses
“If you had covid-19 and it’s confirmed, you are still encouraged to get the shot when it’s your turn,” Bischoff said, “unless you’ve had it in the last 90 days, in which case they say it might be better to wait.”
He reminded people that it was very important to get the second dose of the two-part vaccine, whether it turns out to be Pfizer or Moderna. Currently, the CDC is saying that you should get your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine 17-21 days after the first dose.
Also, you can’t mix the vaccines. If your first dose is from Pfizer, the second dose must be from Pfizer.
“If you get the Pfizer for the first one, you don’t show up and get the Moderna for the second one,” Bischoff said.
Monitoring after vaccination
“Once you get a dose, everybody should be monitored for 15 minutes,” Bischoff said. “How that is going to look when we started doing wide scale, we still need to figure out. We had in mind a model of a drive through vaccination if the health department is going to do it. We would need you to park for 15 minutes and then clear you to leave. If you are someone who has stronger reactions to things, we’d increase that to 30 minutes.”
A wide scale dispersion of the vaccines is unlikely to happen for another month or two, Bischoff noted. The health department is preparing, and he believes guidance should be more evolved and settled by then.
“The vaccines are here; that’s awesome. They are working to make as many as they can, as fast as they can. Hopefully with Moderna showing up in a couple weeks, we can bring these numbers up quite a bit,” Bischoff said.