Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Health officer discusses covid response

The disruption and danger of the covid-19 virus to society should ease as the population becomes vaccinated, Wahkiakum County Health Officer Dr. Steven Kraer said Tuesday.

"I think the vaccine is our ticket to get back to some sense of normalcy," Dr. Krager told the board of county commissioners, who were meeting as the county board of health.

The Wahkiakum County Health Department and Chris Bischoff, its director, are doing a good job responding to the pandemic, he added.

Wahkiakum County's covid-19 caseload hasn't seen a new case in three weeks, and the department's vaccination clinics have reached about 25 percent of the county's population, he said, one of the highest averages in the state.

"Our hope is that we'll have a good portion of the population vaccinated by late spring or early summer and we won't see much covid," he said.

Dr. Krager commented on several aspects of covid response:

Virus variants

"We have them in Washington," he said. "They are quickly becoming more prominent.

"There's a race to vaccinate versus the arrival of variants.

"Right now, the vaccines work well against the variants, but the variants could change and develop immunity to the vaccines . . .

"There are a lot of unknowns, but the data we have now is good."

The vaccines

Will booster shots be needed in the future, he was asked.

"We don't know how long the vaccine immunity lasts, "Dr. Krager responded. "It's one of those things we're watching very closely."

Vaccine safety

He was also asked for his opinion on vaccine safety.

He admitted he initially had concerns about the safety of the vaccines which were developed in a relatively short time, but he now feels the vaccines are very safe and effective.

"The process was speeded up because there was a ton of money thrown at it and there was a sense of urgency," he said.

When he looked at the process, he saw that each phase of development and testing was accomplished and there were several independent reviews to data. And now that the vaccines have been administered, they've shown to be safe.

"We've given millions and millions of these shots and have been monitoring the results," he said. "If there were serious side effects, we would know now.

"I've become a lot more comfortable that they are safe and effective vaccines."


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