Vaccine clinics this week; COVID death count lowered

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The Monroe County Health Department announced on Tuesday the dates for three more clinics for residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The county will administer first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Monroe County Fairgrounds, with any county resident 16 or older being eligible. There is no registration for this clinic. Individuals should bring proof of age and residency, and people under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. 

There will also be a second dose clinic Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the fairgrounds for those who got their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on March 25 or prior. There will be another second dose clinic on Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the fairgrounds for residents who received their first shot of the Moderna vaccine on March 19 or prior. 

No Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be available for now after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent and Food and Drug Administration advised temporarily pausing the distribution of that single-shot vaccine.

That recommendation came after six women age 18-48 reported having rare and severe blood clots six to 13 days after getting that shot. More than 6.8 million Johnson and Johnson shots have been given in the United States.

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” the CDC and FDA statement reads. “This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”

Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner said none of those six adverse reactions were from here, and he had no concerns about any coming up.

“People who have already got it should not be concerned,” Wagner said. “It’s one in a million.”

Wagner also said the distribution of that vaccine being paused should not have a major impact on the county’s vaccination efforts because it was not slated to get significant quantities of the shot.

This comes after, for the first time, the Monroe County Health Department had doses of the COVID-19 vaccine left when the clinic ended Thursday afternoon.

John Wagner said the clinic went “really well” but the county only used about 500 of the 600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and half of the 300 Moderna shots.

“It’s a good thing because it means people can get the shot if they want it, but it’s a bad thing because I don’t think a lot of people have gotten the shot,” Wagner said.

There is also a plan in the works for Monroe County to receive some extra doses next week to vaccinate high school seniors.

“It looks like that’s what we’re going to do maybe the middle of next week,” Wagner said.

This comes after Wagner reported two more deaths from the novel coronavirus last Thursday, but said it would be the last time he did so. 

The deceased were a woman in her 90s who lived in a long-term care facility and a man in his 70s. 

The woman tested positive for the virus in October, while the man tested positive in September and got injured in December and was hospitalized with that injury until he died last month.

Those deaths being counted seemed to be the last straw for Wagner, who has long been critical of how the state counts deaths from the virus because it appears it counts anyone who tested positive and later died as a COVID death.

“The accuracy of the state classifying individuals is not consistent with the level of truth that I as administrator am comfortable with,” Wagner said.

On Thursday, Wagner added that one of his main concerns is that the public assumes a COVID death is when someone contracts the virus, does not recover and dies from it. That is not always the case with the criteria the state uses when classifying deaths.

Last weekend, however, Wagner said the Illinois Department of Public Health reviewed some of its cases and now puts Monroe County’s death toll at 90.

“I don’t know if they adjusted it down or if they were that far behind to start with,” said Wagner, whose last reported death toll was 105. “But they have reviewed some cases and taken some cases off, but I’m not sure if they had reported them in their totals.”

Wagner said he was pleased to see the count adjusted.

“Across the state, with how many deaths are coming in, they can’t look at each one. If it is delayed and they are looking at it over time, great,” he said.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike has said that anyone who passes away after testing positive for the virus is included in that category.

“If you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live, and then you also were found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death. It means technically even if you died of a clear alternate cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death. So, everyone who’s listed as a COVID death doesn’t mean that that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of the death,” she said.  

Wagner predicted earlier this week that the two-shot Moderna vaccine would run out on Thursday, but he was skeptical of demand for the Johnson & Johnson shot. 

“I’m really interested in seeing how that Johnson & Johnson goes,” he said then. “My opinion is no, we’re going to have that first hundred people who want Johnson & Johnson, and then it’s going to fall off a lot. But talking with other counties who have had Johnson & Johnson, that’s all some people want.”

“I’m a little concerned we’re not going to be able to get rid of 600 doses,”  Wagner added. 

In addition to the first-dose clinic Thursday, Moderna second-dose vaccines were administered Friday at the fairgrounds to those who received their first dose on or prior to March 12.

The IDPH reports Monroe County has administered 19,460 doses of COVID vaccine. There are 7,689 people fully vaccinated here – meaning 22.39 percent of the county has received both shots.

Illinois overall has administered 7,344,112 doses of the vaccine and received over 9.3 million doses. A total of 2,952,843 residents have gotten both shots, which means 23.18 percent of Illinois is fully vaccinated.

Monroe County has had a total of 4,328 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, about 62 of which are active. Two residents remain hospitalized with the virus. There have been 98 new cases since March 31.

Wagner announced 28 cases Thursday, the most in a single day in weeks, and said that could be due to a large group of test results coming in at once, more school-age children testing positive for the virus and multiple people in families contracting it.

“I think it’s actually a combination of things. I think there is a little bit of an increase,” he explained.

Overall, the Waterloo zip code has had 2,190 cases (25,979 tests performed), the Columbia zip code has had 1,651 cases (11,127 tests) and the Valmeyer zip code has had 166 cases (1,001 tests), according to the IDPH.

Monroe County’s seven-day rolling average test positivity rate was 9 percent on April 10.

The seven-day rolling average positivity rate for the metro east was 3.3 percent on April 10. The region has 36 percent of its ICU staffed beds available.

In St. Clair County, there have been 29,804 total positive tests and 474 coronavirus-related deaths. A total of 324,277 tests have been performed there.

Randolph County has had 4,098 confirmed cases, 15 of which are active. Eighty-five people have died from the virus there.

Illinois overall is up to 1,285,398 cases of coronavirus and 21,540 deaths. There are 1,998 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois, including 466 people in ICU beds.

Missouri has recorded 494,157 confirmed cases and 8,622 deaths. That includes 77,922 cases in St. Louis County and 20,233 cases in St. Louis City, according to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services.

Nationally, more than 31.2 million people have contracted the virus, while at least 562,007 people have died.

Worldwide, there have been over 136.7 million cases of coronavirus and over 2.9 million COVID-19-related deaths.

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