By Woodrow Polston
The most recent update from the Audrain County Health Department reveals that the risk category remains low for the county. ACHD Administrator Craig Brace discussed vaccination rates during the latest intercollaborative Zoom meeting, which was held March 16.
“As of March 10, individuals age 5 to 11 are 40% fully vaccinated,” said Brace. “Those who are between 12 and 18 years of age are currently at 43%. Individuals between 18 and 65 are at 45% and those who are over 65 are 73% fully vaccinated. We are glad to see that number continue to go up, as that demographic is at a higher risk. The goal that we have set at the ACHD, as well as the goal set by the Department of Health and Senior Services for Audrain County is 65% of the population fully vaccinated and boosted. And we are currently at 45%.” he added.
The ACHD will continue to make available the vaccine and the boosters to everyone that is eligible in the county. Brace also stated that they will continue to offer the outreach clinics in both Mexico and Vandalia. The ACHD will also continue to educate individuals on risk factors surrounding the differences between the unvaccinated and the vaccinated. Brace also said that the ACHD is currently monitoring the new Omicron BA.2 variant that has surfaced.
“The BA.2 variant has appeared in Hong Kong and placed them on lock down,” said Brace. “It has also now appeared in Israel. We look at Israeli data to help determine what could potentially occur in here in the United States. We will continue to monitor this. The good news is that it does not seem to evade the vaccine. We have also started monitoring wastewater in Audrain County for variant BA.2 and we have zero evidence of it,” he added.
Brace informed the group that flu-like vaccinations for COVID would likely be seen in the coming fall. He also mentioned that the chief executive officer of Pfizer is seeking emergency authorization for a fourth shot. Audrain County Eastern District Commissioner Leslie Meyer voiced concerns over possible negative reactions to booster shots.
“When I got my vaccines, I had a pretty bad reaction to them,” said Meyer. “I ended up needing steroid shots to help pull me out of the symptoms that I had,” she added. Meyer questioned whether booster shots would pose the same hazards that she had experienced with the vaccine. Brace advised her to consult with her physician to help determine whether she would be a good candidate for the booster shots.
Brace concluded the meeting by stating that despite the transition from pandemic to endemic, it would be good to continue the intercollaberative calls. He also stated that compelling ideas and topics would be considered a welcomed addition to the meetings.
“I see us moving toward sharing and discussing different subjects in future meetings,” said Brace. “Certainly our focus will remain on health and public health initiatives. We may also shift the calls to a monthly meeting, but we certainly do not want to do away with the calls,” he added.
The ACHD continues to offer the COVID-19 positive test self-reporting page on its website. The new page was created in response to the rapid growth in the sale of at-home COVID-19 rapid tests at various pharmacy outlets. The page collects information from only those that test positive with an at-home test. Those that test negative with an at-home test do not need to report their results. For further questions, you can contact the ACHD at 573-581-1332 or visit their website at myachd.org.