While the COVID-19 vaccine has given many a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, less than half of Webster County residents eligible to receive the vaccine have elected to do so.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health’s coronavirus website, the current COVID-19 vaccination rate for Webster County is 45.9%, and active cases of the virus are increasing in the area.
There are currently 108 active cases of COVID-19 in Webster County, with 79 in just the last week.
According to Dr. Mike Willerth, chief medical officer at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center, the hospital is seeing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. In May, there were seven, in June there were five and in July there were 24.
“We’re not at the numbers we were at the peak last year in 2020, but increasing numbers are concerning,” he said. “We had to shut down elective surgery a few times during the first wave to take proper care of the COVID patients, and we’re hoping we don’t have to do that again.”
Willerth said that with kids going back to school this month, analytics are showing that this wave of cases isn’t going to hit its peak for a few more weeks, so there is potential that August and September will have even higher numbers of cases.
“And this is what we are very concerned about,” he said.
What’s also concerning, Willerth said, is that the Delta variant of the coronavirus is more strongly affecting the younger population.
He said that to prevent this uptick of COVID-19 activity from getting any worse, he strongly encourages people to be vaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for use by kids 12 and over, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for only adults.
“Anytime that groups of people gather, there is the potential spread of illness,” said Sadie Trueblood, program assistant at the Webster County Health Department. “The vaccination is the best line of defense against COVID-19 and the variant strains.”
WCHD continues to make COVID-19 vaccines available every Tuesday and Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the WCHD office, 723 First Ave. S. Call 515-573-4107.
Vaccines are to be available at UnityPoint Health, Community Health Center of Fort Dodge, Iowa Specialty Clinic, Daniel Pharmacy, HyVee Pharmacy, CVS and Walgreens.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has not yet voted on whether to recommend a booster for immunocompromised people or anyone already vaccinated against COVID-19, Trueblood said. She also said that those who are immunocompromised should still get vaccinated and continue to take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19 — like wearing a mask, avoiding crowds and staying 6 feet away from others.
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