Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Idaho hospitals have been in crisis for weeks. Has this influenced the spread of the COVID-19 vaccine?

BUAZ, Idaho. Major hospitals in Idaho have had crisis standards of care for several weeks.

For months, elected officials, health officials and hospital executives have pleaded with Idaho residents to get vaccinated, which they say is the only viable path to ending the pandemic more quickly.

But the data shows that most of the public did not heed these pleas. Over the past month, the number of new people vaccinated has dropped while hospitals are in crisis.

The sluggish implementation prompted Dr. Stephen Nemerson, chief physician of St. Alphonse’s health system, to say on Oct. 12 that the state has “lost the war” with COVID-19 and that the virus has been around for a long time.

“The reason he is here to stay is because we cannot vaccinate enough of the population to eradicate the disease completely,” he said. “And in the absence of the ability to do so … now we need to move to the phase of realizing that COVID will be a disease to be fought in the long term.”

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The crisis standards were activated statewide on September 16.

During the week of September 12-18, about 13,115 people received either the first dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or the first and only dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Since then, that number has declined each week to 6,141 of the first dose administered in the week of October 10-16, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Human Services. This is a decrease of about 63%.

Falling demand for vaccines keeps Idaho among the least vaccinated states in the country. Until Tuesday, only 53.9% of Idaho residents had been vaccinated against COVID-19, the second-highest rate in the country.

On October 5, Sarah Leeds, immunization program manager at Health and Welfare, addressed demand reduction.

“We don’t know exactly why, when the crisis standards for care came into effect, the amount of (first dose) vaccine given during the day began to decline,” she said at a press conference.

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Over the past two months, an average of about 1,500 new Idaho residents have decided to get vaccinated every day, according to Dr. Catherine Turner, the state’s deputy epidemiologist.

“Each of these people is cause for celebration,” she said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

While fewer unvaccinated Idaho residents choose to be vaccinated, the situation is somewhat different for people already vaccinated who qualify for additional doses.

In mid-August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended third doses of Moderna and Pfizer shots for some people with weakened immune systems, including people on certain types of chemotherapy, at least a month after taking the second dose. On September 23, the CDC recommended increasing doses of Pfizer shots for high-risk Americans six months after taking a two-dose Pfizer course.

About 19,000 Idaho residents received their third dose, or booster, in the week of September 26, according to the state. In the week of October 3, that number dropped to about 17,000.

On October 14, a FDA team announced that the same group of vulnerable Americans – this time those who received two doses of Moderna vaccine – are eligible for another vaccine. On Wednesday, the FDA authorized revaccinations for Moderna and J&J vaccine recipients. Moderna boosters – half the original dose – are legal for people over 65 and other vulnerable groups, while J&J boosters are legal for anyone over 18. The FDA also allowed Americans eligible for the booster to get boosted with any vaccine available, not just the one they originally received, in what is known as the “mix and match approach.” On Thursday, October 21, influential CDC consultants approved additional doses of all three national vaccines and opened up another company’s brand selection for the next vaccine.

Since August, when groups were eligible for additional doses, total vaccinations in Idaho have increased, but Leeds said the increase has been slow.

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As of Tuesday, 66,152 Idaho residents received a third dose or booster dose. It is unclear how many people are eligible in total.

“I wouldn’t say people are absolutely huddled together,” Leeds said. She said IDHW will have a better understanding of consumption if booster doses for other vaccines are allowed.

While health professionals in Idaho were administering more than 10,000 vaccines a day in the spring as many impatient Idaho residents lined up to get vaccinated, vaccinations have since plummeted, to a low of just a few thousand a day in the summer. …

While older children aged 12 to 17 are eligible for vaccination since May, only 30% of children aged 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated, and 36% of children aged 16 and 17 are vaccinated, according to Health data. and well-being.

Later this month, the FDA will likely decide whether to allow Pfizer vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 who were still not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

If these young children become eligible for treatment in the coming weeks, the number of daily doses given could increase again, but officials are not sure how much.

Leeds said she was “cautiously optimistic” that many parents would choose to vaccinate their children, but added that the vaccination trajectory is likely to “mirror” what happened with previous eligible groups.

“I think we will probably see a lot of demand early on and maybe (consumption) will decrease in a few months,” she said.

If young children are vaccinated at the same rate as adolescents, the overall percentage of vaccinated Idaho residents is likely to fall even lower.

“I hope that parents will perceive this vaccine as safe and effective for children,” Leeds said. “We really want to make sure parents understand that when the FDA and CDC check this data and say the benefits outweigh the risks, it’s a safe and effective vaccine.”

Nation World News Desk
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