The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Covid-19 update

Wahkiakum cases now 117; vaccination clinics scheduled

 


Two more covid-19 cases were reported in Wahkiakum County this week, bringing the cumulative total to 117. Nine are considered to be potentially active.

“Overall we are doing much better as a country,” Wahkiakum Health and Human Services (WHHS) Director Chris Bischoff said on Monday.

As for Washington state, Bischoff said there was a significant decline in case counts.

"We are not to our summer low yet, but we are getting there. All those things are headed in the right direction,” he said, adding that testing, hospitalizations, and fatalities were down.

Vaccines

As far as vaccines, “supply is significantly outstripping the demand,” Bischoff said, remarking that it was an effect of vaccine hesitancy.

The federal government will be shipping 396,000 doses to Washington state, though providers have only ordered 200,000, he said.

This did not include the doses that will go directly to pharmacies or federally qualified health centers, where Bischoff says they are beginning to show backlogs.

“Manufacturing is blowing past the demand right now,” he said.

“We should still be giving this many doses a week,” Bischoff said. “We really need to, we are not anywhere we need to be percentage wise.”

In Washington, 5.8 million vaccine doses have been given so far. Seventy percent of people 65 and older, considered to be the most vulnerable population, are fully vaccinated, while 76 percent of them have had at least one dose.

If one considers total population, about 39 percent of Wahkiakum County residents have had one dose, while 34 percent are fully vaccinated. Of the population who are currently eligible for the vaccine, which includes anyone age 16 and up, almost 45 percent have had one dose, and almost 40 percent are fully vaccinated.

“Pfizer is likely to be approved this week to cover down to 12 years old,” Bischoff said. “This allows us to hit a much larger segment of the population. They are shipping us 2,000 doses of Pfizer. That is full vaccination for 1,000 people.”

Because of this, WHHS plans to switch from Moderna to Pfizer, in general.

Pfizer is currently working with FDA to end their emergency use agreement and function under normal approval, which may make some people feel better about it, Bischoff said.

There is a rumor that Pfizer may soon be approved for children as young as six months, Bischoff added. Meanwhile, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are working on approval for younger age groups as well.

WHHS is planning a vaccination clinic for this Saturday, May 15, from 9-12 at the Hope Center in Cathlamet. They will be giving second doses and first doses for anyone who is interested. Call 360-849-4041 to sign up.

Bischoff said that the state is planning to do some walk in clinics and they will likely be held in Granges, churches, and fire halls throughout the county.

“The state is working really hard to remove any barriers for people to get vaccinated,” Bischoff said. “Unfortunately, people aren’t coming any more.

“In Cowlitz County, they have got a bunch of different places scheduling clinics where they are getting 20-30 people to sign up if they are lucky,” he said, “where they were hoping to give out 500-600 vaccinations. We are running into a different set of issues right now.”

Bischoff had some thoughts about what the future might hold.

“We are not going to reach herd immunity," he said. “Because we are not going to do that, we are going to allow variants to continue to morph for the long term. What we are doing, essentially, and I mean humanity as a whole—even if the United States got up to 80 percent vaccination rate and really get into a herd immunity standpoint—you have a ton of the world that isn’t, and the US isn’t going to either, not any time soon. So you allow for these variants to continue to mutate.”

“Already Moderna and Pfizer are developing a booster that will address variants, especially like the South African variant, which has a stronger potential at reducing the effectiveness of the vaccinations,” he added. “We are not sure if the vaccination you got, if you got one, will cover you forever for covid or…if you would need to do a sort of flu shot annual thing, but we are sure that by allowing the SARS virus to continue to be pretty prolific, we are basically guaranteeing that we are going to have variants popping out on a regular basis.”

“You can expect to be asked to get a different vaccination next year for covid, and longer term, you may be asked to get that every year,” he said.

“This is not going to fade into the background. I’ve had people say ‘I can’t wait till this is all over,’” Bischoff said, “but this will not be ending.”

 

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