Mercer County Health Department May Re-Offer COVID Booster Injections Soon |


PRINCETON – The Mercer County Health Department hopes to resume scheduling immunization clinics as soon as certain state-mandated changes regarding recent confusion in Moderna booster doses are made.

On November 2, the state’s public health office suspended all further vaccination clinics after finding that about 200 residents had received a full dose of the booster rather than a half dose at an October 28 clinic.

A team from the office visited the department on November 9 to determine what changes should be made to ensure this does not happen again and filed the report, which included recommendations.

Bonnie Allen, a registered public health nurse and acting administrator of the department, said the suggestions involved online training with staff and it had been done.

“It wasn’t anything major,” she said, “just a number of educational items that we had to do online and they were completed.”

Former administrator Roger Topping, who resigned after the incident, said the department had never been directly informed by the state that doses should be half, not full.

Topping accepted responsibility for the error and the board of health accepted his resignation.

Dr Ayne Amjad, state health official and head of the bureau, said that after discovering the error, department staff should have known the correct dosage and temporarily withhold COVID vaccinations until that any problem be resolved.

Amjad said it was not a “punitive” action and that other state departments were also having problems and were put on hold.

Teams from the office visit these counties and make recommendations on how to ensure that no further problems arise.

Amjad also said the full booster dose of Moderna rather than half should not be harmful, and Allen said last week that there were no serious issues reported by those who received the full dose.

Allen said the state will be informed today that the report’s recommendations have been completed and she hopes the department will get the green light to resume vaccination clinics soon.

“We have to wait for the state,” she said.

Residents continue to have other options for COVID vaccines, including pharmacies, Bluestone Health Center offices as well as primary care providers.

However, being able to offer these immunization clinics again will come at a critical time.

As the holiday season kicks off, the number of COVIDs here and around the state continues to rise and presents concerns to state leaders.

Retired Major General James Hoyer, head of the state’s joint interagency task force, said last week that the pandemic was not over and another outbreak was possible.

Those words were echoed by Governor Jim Justice and COVID-19 state czar Dr Clay Marsh during Friday’s pandemic briefing, as both said getting vaccinated was crucial.

“The more vaccinated you are, the fewer people will die,” Justice said, stressing that it is now a pandemic situation for the unvaccinated, including those who do not get a booster.

With colder weather and the holidays ahead, officials warn of the likelihood of an increased spread, a scenario that occurred last year, leading to an increase in December and January that pushed hospital capacity on the brink with patients unable to find available beds.

Marsh said there was a difference this year related to the much more contagious Delta virus and its propensity to infect young people.

“Children are more likely to be less symptomatic or asymptomatic, but they can spread it,” he said. “It has changed the dynamics of this pandemic. Children of all ages can get infected and can infect others very easily. “

Statistics show the increase in cases among young people.

In the previous seven days, according to the DHHR (Department of Health and Human Resources), of the 5,741 new cases of COVID in the state, which are primarily the Delta variant, nearly 25% were 20 years of age or younger . In fact, over 9 percent of this group were between 5 and 11 years old.

Although vaccines are now available for ages 5 and up, the number of young people vaccinated statewide continues to lag, with just 37.7% in the 12-15 age group and much less than in the 5-11 age bracket, although DHHR has not posted an update on this percentage.

In Mercer County, only 33.6% of 12 to 15 year olds received at least one dose and 41.3% of the 16 to 20 age group, with no definitive statistics on the 5 age group. at the age of 11.

The trend of increased infection of young people is also reflected in Mercer County.

In the previous seven-day reporting period, over 41% of the 235 new cases were 30 years of age or younger, including 22 in the 5-11 age group.

Mercer County also continues to see a gradual increase in the number of active cases, with 302 reported on Monday, up from 265 the week before.

Statewide, nearly 7,000 active cases were reported as of Monday, a number that fell to around 6,000 before starting to rise again.

People hospitalized with COVID also started to rise again after dropping dramatically for several weeks and then stabilized.

As of Monday, 539 COVID patients were in public hospitals, including 179 in intensive care and 99 on ventilators, all on the increase.

Hoyer said last week that these hospital numbers are troubling, along with the increase in the RT value, which measures the rate of spread of the virus.

A score of 1.0 means that one person will infect another person on average, with a number that has fallen below 1.0 indicating less spread.

However, by Friday it had risen to 0.99 and is expected to cross the 1.0 and above threshold again, which means, Hoyer said, “more cases and more hospitalizations as well as more intensive care patients. and under ventilation “.

Deaths have also increased significantly with the Delta variant, which is much more contagious than the original coronavirus and other variants.

Hoyer said on Friday that of the total of 4,726 COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, 1,780 have occurred in the first 310 days with 2,946 since then and 1,753 in the past 100 days, which corresponds to the thrust of the Delta variant. Others died over the weekend, bringing the total to 4,757 on Monday.

Getting the vaccine is the “only key we have,” he said.

Justice stressed that these latest deaths occurred in the middle of the Delta wave and are continuing, even with the vaccine available, as the vast majority of these deaths involved people who had not been vaccinated.

“Delta attacks those who are not vaccinated and a lot of people have died,” he said.

– Contact Charles Boothe at [email protected]

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