County Public Health Report ~ 11/08

The following is a summary of the presentation during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioners The following is a summary of the presentation during the Public Health briefings at this week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting made by Jefferson and Clallam County Public Deputy Health Officer Dr. Tom Locke. Also Willie Bence, Director, Director of Emergency Management, gave a report. The summary was provided by and used with the permission of Jefferson County Government.

County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry Monday told Commissioners that the county’s COVID-19 case rate numbers are “getting better.” The current cased rate is 180 per 100,000, down from 250 last week, and our percent positivity is 7.6 – a bit higher than she’d like to see. Ideally it should be below 5%. Two Jefferson residents are hospitalized – one locally and one out of town who has been hospitalized for months. We’ve lost 17 of our citizens due to COVID-19. Currently, 73% of those who are getting infected with COVID-19 are unvaccinated in our community. “In Washington state right now as of today, you’re five times more likely to get infected with COVID-19 than if you are unvaccinated, and you are 12 times more likely to die of COVID-19 if you are unvaccinated,” she explained.

Dr. Berry said the biggest news this week is that the Pfizer vaccine was approved for kids 5 to 11. So now any child in Jefferson County 5 or older is eligible for getting vaccinated. “We are very excited about this,” Berry said. “I think, as we’ve discussed a little bit in the past, there’s a common misconception that kids are not affected by COVID-19 – and that is just not true.” She explained that over 8,000 kids in that age group have been hospitalized in the U.S. and a third of them required ICU level care. “I don’t think any of us wants to see any of our kids affected that way, she said. “30% of the kids in that age group who got hospitalized had no underlying conditions whatsoever. They were otherwise healthy kids who ended up in the hospital or the ICU.” Dr, Berry said kids are much more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 than any other age group and there is a small potential risk from the vaccine. “When we look at the side effects found in the trials of the Pfizer vaccine for kids, the most common side effect by far was a sore arm. Then after that was fatigue and a headache.”

Dr. Berry also reported there have been two small clusters of outbreaks locally related to our schools: one football team with 4 positive cases and one kindergarten class with 4 positive cases. She said those are the places where she anticipates some transmission to occur.

Director of Emergency Management Willie Bence said the next opportunity for kid’s vaccines is Saturday, November 20 at the Chimacum School. The all-day event has 220 appointments available in the morning and 200 in the afternoon. To sign up, go to the Jefferson County Public Health website or call Emergency Management at 360-344-9791. Second dose clinics for this population will be scheduled in December. Additionally, Jefferson Healthcare has received some Pfizer vaccine for use in well-child checks and it’s encouraged that you talk with your physician if the mass vax clinic setting is not an option.

Submit your Public Health questions to Dr. Allison Berry and to Willie Bence by emailing [email protected]. Note: The weekly deadline for these to be submitted is on Fridays at noon, to be answered at the following Monday’s BOCC meeting.