Vaccinations encouraged while COVID still circulates
State employees continue to conduct the tests from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Jamestown Civic Center.
JAMESTOWN – COVID is circulating and people should get vaccinated because there is still a high risk of contracting coronavirus, according to Kim Lee, director of nursing at Central Valley Health District.
“There are hardly any mitigation strategies going on right now,” Lee said. “it is still important to be vaccinated, and if you are sick stay home. If you are out in the community and don’t feel well, you should be wearing a mask not just for COVID but also for influenza. It’s still circulating right now.”
For the week of April 8-14, Stutsman County had five positive cases of coronavirus, according to information from the North Dakota Department of Health. As of April 15, there were 267 new positive cases in North Dakota.
Lee said the number of cases could be down because people are self-testing at home and not reporting the cases. She also said when people don’t feel well, they are not getting tested at a testing site.
“They are just going to stay home due to all the education of how important it is to stay home when you are sick,” she said. “But also, vaccine rates continue to climb for vaccination rates and that helps control the spread of disease.”
She said state employees are conducting the tests from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Jamestown Civic Center.
“We are going to continue that until they tell us that the state can’t help us anymore with it, then we will have to look at what we are going to do with testing,” she said.
Central Valley Health has been administering COVID vaccines Mondays and Fridays at its office. Lee said Central Valley Health has seen an increase in people getting the vaccine. She said some days Central Valley Health was only administering 10 vaccines but now it is up in the 20s.
“We are still doing some first doses for people,” she said. “We are still doing some second doses. Then we’ve had people come in for their first booster, second booster. It’s kind of a mix right now.”
Lee said Central Valley Health recommends the second booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccines that was approved for people 50 and older. She said individuals 50 and older really need to get the second booster dose.
“People younger than that are not showing that they necessarily need that booster,” she said. “They have a better immune system, so they are holding on to what they have for vaccines a little bit better than those 50 and older.”
Individuals can receive the second booster dose four months after they receive the first booster dose.
A second booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine may be administered to certain immunocompromised individuals 12 and older four months after receiving the first booster dose of any approved COVID vaccine, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. A second booster dose of the Moderna vaccine may be administered to certain immunocompromised individuals 18 and older four months after receiving the first booster dose of any approved COVID vaccine.
The vaccination rate in Stutsman County for individuals 12 and older is 64% for those who received at least one dose, 60.2% for those who received two doses and 56.9% for those who received a booster, according to the health department.
The vaccination rate in Stutsman County for individuals 65 and older is 87.8% for those who received at least one dose, 82.9% for those who received two doses and 77.3% for those who received the first booster dose.
No statistics were available on how many individuals have received the second booster.
Lee said it would take about a year to complete all vaccination doses if someone has not received any of the COVID vaccines.
“This is actually pretty quick to get all those shots in within a year,” she said. “When you go through childhood immunizations it’s different. You have a schedule and it takes all the way up until they are 5 to be completed with their vaccines up to school age. This is a rushed series.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the U.S. president, wrote in an article published March 31 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases that herd immunity for COVID-19 is an “unattainable” goal.
“Like influenza, any level of herd protection against SARS-CoV-2 potentially can be overcome by ever-changing levels of immunity among countless sub-populations, by human movement, crowding, changes in social or prevention behaviors, by demographics, by vaccination levels, by variations in durability of infection - or vaccine-induced immunity, and by evolution of viral variants, among other variables,” he wrote.
After more than two years of viral circulation and having vaccines with boosters for more than a year, there is a higher degree of background population immunity to SARS-CoV-2, Fauci wrote. He also wrote that there are medical countermeasures such as antiviral drugs and monoclonal antibodies to prevent progression of the disease as well as diagnostic tests that are widely available.
“With these interventions we can aspire to, and very likely will succeed in achieving, substantial control of community spread without the disruptions of society caused by COVID-19 over the past 2 years,” he wrote.
Lee said Central Valley Health has not administered any influenza vaccines in April. She said influenza is still circulating across North Dakota.
“Influenza was really bad in the fall last year, but we always see a little spike again right in the spring area,” she said.
Lee said the low number of influenza vaccines that were administered could be from people being hesitant to get vaccinations because of the push from the federal government to get COVID vaccines.
“There was a lot of push from the government,” she said. “Unfortunately, the rates did drop. There was too much medical publicity going on. I think people got burned out.”