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COVID-19 Vaccine Approved for Younger Children, Mesa County Prepares for Distribution

COVID-19 Vaccine Approved for Younger Children, Mesa County Prepares for Distribution

Now all children, down to six months old, are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines on June 19th. Mesa County Public Health ordered Moderna and Pfizer vaccine in anticipation of this approval. Clinical trials and ongoing safety monitoring ensure that the vaccine is safe and effective for this age group. Vaccination provides protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19 like hospitalization and death.

COVID-19 continues to circulate in Mesa County and is now becoming endemic, like influenza. Unvaccinated individuals continue to dominate the reported new cases. From May 1 to June 20, slightly over 92% of new cases were in unvaccinated individuals. Fifteen-percent of children ages infant through four years old have had COVID-19. This population is estimated to be 4.5% of Mesa County’s population. When considering unreported cases, 60% to 70% of this age group has no immunity. This approval means that more of the community can receive protection.

The community will be notified when the vaccine for this age group arrives. Families can call Mesa County Public Health and schedule an appointment. MCPH has a team of experts who work with this age group every day and create an environment that is good for the child and the parent. Visit the COVID-19 Vaccine webpage for more information.

COVID-19 Vaccine Approved for Younger Children, Mesa County Prepares for Distribution

COVID-19 Community Level Moves from Medium to High

BACKGROUND

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a new tool to help individuals and families make choices to prevent COVID-19.
  • Community Levels for a specific county can be rated as low, medium, or high.
  • Recommendations for controlling risk include:

Low: Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines; Get tested if you have symptoms.

 

Medium: Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines; Get tested if you have symptoms, and If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions. Consider extra precautions if you have someone in your household who is immunocompromised.

 

High: Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines; Get tested if you have symptoms; and Wear a mask indoors in public. Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness.

  • The levels are determined by looking at numbers of new COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions, and number of hospital beds being used.
  • There are different measures and related guidance for high-risk settings like healthcare facilities and nursing homes.

 

LOCAL SITUATION

  • Mesa County moved to High Community Level on June 9, 2022.
  • This change helps us understand general changes in the community but does not need to cause alarm.
  • COVID-19 cases have increased from a 7-day trailing average of around 20 per day during April and May, to about 50 cases per day at the beginning of June. For comparison, over 350 cases per day were reported at the peak of Omicron.
  • Though hospital admissions of COVID-19 have increased, they continue to remain low. 

 

PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS

  • At all levels, people can wear a mask based on personal preference, informed by personal level of risk. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.
  • Be mindful of friends, family, and coworkers who are immunocompromised or who live with those who are immunocompromised. Consider wearing a mask when indoors with them.
  • Continue to practice infection prevention at home and work, like staying home if you or your child feel sick.
  • Consider smaller groups or outdoor locations when planning summer activities to lower the risk of disease transmission.
  • Testing: Use a Rapid Test if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Pick up your tests during regular business hours at the Health and Human Services Building, located at 510 29 1/2 Road. If you are experiencing symptoms, please wear a mask. Testing is also available at Colorado Mesa University through COVIDCheck Colorado.
  • Vaccination: Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines for the most effective prevention against serious illness and hospitalization. Initial series and boosters are approved for children and adults. Some immunocompromised individuals may be eligible for additional boosters. Vaccines are free and safe. You can find a vaccine site near you at Vaccines.gov or make an appointment at Mesa County Public Health on our website or call 970-248-6900.
COVID-19 Vaccine Approved for Younger Children, Mesa County Prepares for Distribution

COVID-19 Community Level Moves from Low to Medium

BACKGROUND

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a new tool to help individuals and families make choices to prevent COVID-19.
  • Community Levels for a specific county can be rated as low, medium, or high.
  • Recommendations for controlling risk include:

Low: Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines; Get tested if you have symptoms.

Medium: Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines; Get tested if you have symptoms, and If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions. Consider extra precautions if you have someone in your household who is immunocompromised.

High: Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines; Get tested if you have symptoms; and Wear a mask indoors in public. Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness.

  • The levels are determined by looking at numbers of new COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions, and number of hospital beds being used.
  • There are different measures and related guidance for high-risk settings like healthcare facilities and nursing homes.

LOCAL SITUATION

  • Mesa County remained at a Low Community Level until June 2nd, when it moved to Medium.
  • COVID-19 cases have increased from a 7-day trailing average of around 20 per day during April and May, to about 50 cases per day at the beginning of June. For comparison, over 350 cases per day were reported at the peak of Omicron.
  • Hospital admissions of COVID-19 cases remain low. There were four admissions in April and eight in May. At this same time last year, there were 45 admissions in April 2021 and 91 in May 2021.
  • Nearly 71% of all Mesa County residents are known to have had COVID-19 or have been vaccinated. Much of the community has some level of immunity to COVID-19.

PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Continue to practice infection prevention at home and work, like staying home if you or your child feel sick.
  • Consider smaller groups or outdoor locations when planning summer activities to lower the risk of disease transmission.
  • Testing: Use a Rapid Test if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Pick up your tests during regular business hours at the Health and Human Services Building, located at 510 29 1/2 Road. If you are experiencing symptoms, please wear a mask. Testing is also available at Colorado Mesa University through COVIDCheck Colorado.
  • Vaccination: Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines for the most effective prevention against serious illness and hospitalization. Initial series and boosters are approved for children and adults. Some immunocompromised individuals may be eligible for additional boosters. Vaccines are free and safe. You can find a vaccine site near you at Vaccines.gov or make an appointment at Mesa County Public Health on our website or call 970-248-6900.
COVID-19 Vaccine Approved for Younger Children, Mesa County Prepares for Distribution

Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Moves Inside Main Public Health Clinic

COVID-19 COMMUNITY VACCINATION CLINIC

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has responded to demand in COVID-19 vaccines since December 2020, starting with the first phase of distribution to healthcare workers. Staff have given over 75,000 vaccinations over the last 17 months. MCPH created safe and efficient operations with in-home nurse visits for home-bound residents, mobile vaccine clinics at worksites, and up to two-thousand vaccinations per day at the Grand Junction Convention Center.

UPDATES IN VACCINATION OPERATIONS

Mesa County Public Health will continue to offer all COVID-19 vaccines free of charge. The community vaccination site will transition to the main public health clinic by appointment only after Friday, May 27, 2022.

Information about appointments for individuals age 5 and older can be found on the COVID-19 Vaccine page. There are over thirty sites in Mesa County to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine with hours to accommodate different schedules. A list of locations in Mesa County to get the COVID-19 vaccine can be found on our website or by texting your zip code to 438829.

FUTURE NEEDS

Mesa County Public Health is well-prepared to scale up operations if needed. “We’ve been in this since the beginning. We’ll still be here to support the community, whether it’s us directly providing services or connecting people to other services they may need,” said Allison Sanchez, Clinical Services Manager.

VACCINATION

A COVID-19 vaccination is still the best way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19. Children five years of age and older are eligible for vaccination. Everyone ages twelve and older are eligible for a booster shot. A second booster is also available for those over the age of 50. COVID-19 vaccine boosters can further enhance or restore protection that might have waned over time after your primary series vaccination. There are different COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. 

TESTING

MCPH recommends a COVID-19 test if you have symptoms of COVID-19, including a cough, sore throat, congestion, or runny nose. After coming in close contact with someone who has COVID-19; a test after day five is recommended if you do not have symptoms, or at the first sign of symptoms if you develop any. Testing is still available for free. Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 can stop by the Health and Human Services Building, located at 510 29 ½ Road to pick up free at-home rapid test kits or request them via state and federal ship-to-home programs.

MCPH Releases COVID-19 Impact Report: A Special Report Complementing the Community Health Needs Assessment

MCPH Releases COVID-19 Impact Report: A Special Report Complementing the Community Health Needs Assessment

Two years after the first COVID-19 case was identified, Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) is releasing a special report, complementing the Community Health Needs Assessment. The COVID-19 Impact Report is dedicated solely to the impacts of COVID-19 in Mesa County.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, case investigators with MCPH tracked case counts, community spread, and deaths due to the virus. Tracking these data, related to direct impacts, is vital to understanding where and how the virus spreads, who is most at risk, and allows the agency to share public health guidance to protect the community and control illness outbreaks. 

As data related to the number of cases was being shared through an online Data Dashboard, the Research and Planning team at MCPH was tracking in-depth and more indirect measures as to how Mesa County was impacted by the pandemic. 

MCPH Releases the COVID-19 Impact Report

The report examines the time period between 2019-2021 and includes information on calls for service by law enforcement, healthcare visits with mental health notes, utilization of local sports programs, unemployment benefit comparisons to wages, and more. Examining these measures provides the most comprehensive look to date at the impacts of the pandemic on our community, with the intent to inform community organizations in their plans for action over the next few years.

Some of the findings include:

  • In 2020, the average age of overdose death dropped by 10 years.
  • Job losses impacted our local economy with a 10% reduction at the start of the pandemic, but unlike the recession of 2008, losses are on track to recover by the end of 2022.
  • Child care and preschool facilities faced workforce challenges. Licensed child care capacity for children ages 0-5 dropped by 6% between 2019 and 2020, and an additional 11% between 2020 and 2021.
  • Alcohol-related causes of death increased during the first year of the pandemic, the data shows a 45% increase over typical (baseline) causes.

The report highlights areas of impact rooted in the Social Determinants of Health. These are conditions in the environments where people live, learn, work, and play, that impact their health. This is the same way data is presented in the Community Health Needs Assessment released last year.

Mesa County Records Highest Daily COVID-19 Case Count Since the Beginning of the Pandemic

Mesa County Records Highest Daily COVID-19 Case Count Since the Beginning of the Pandemic

MESA COUNTY RECORDS HIGHEST  DAILY CASE COUNT SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC

Caution Urged As Omicron Dominates Spread Locally

Mesa County has seen a recent significant spike in COVID-19 transmission and cases. On January 9, 2022, 532 cases were reported. That is the highest single-day case total. Previously, the most cases reported in a single day was 322 in November 2020. 

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) continues to urge prevention methods in a layered (the more the better) approach for all Mesa County residents, regardless of vaccination status. All Mesa County residents are asked to stay home and do not go to work, child care, public places, or gatherings if you have symptoms of any kind, even if you are vaccinated. If you have symptoms, even if they seem mild, please get a COVID-19 test.

“This is Omicron. We know it spreads quickly, sharp spikes like this are occurring in other areas of the state and country,” Jeff Kuhr, Director of Public Health for Mesa County, said. MCPH anticipated an increase in cases after the holiday season. “We’re not seeing as dramatic of a spike in our hospital admissions; a sign that illness, especially for those who are vaccinated, is typically milder, so the strain on our hospitals isn’t as severe with this latest surge so far. Because hospitalizations lag behind cases, we are closely monitoring admissions and other key metrics,” Kuhr added.  

Other areas of the country experiencing this wave have also seen dramatic increases, followed by a much quicker reduction in cases than observed with previous surges.

Recent cases are distributed across all age groups, with the 5-11 age group experiencing the highest positivity rates, currently around 23%. The current 7-day positivity rate across all ages is currently at 15.2%, a pandemic high.

“The volume of cases and the sharp spike are alarming, but it’s important to note we are not in the same place we were last year or in March of 2020,” MCPH Disease Surveillance and Emergency Response Program Manager, Rachel Burmeister said. We know a lot more about this illness, the ways it spreads, and the steps we can take to protect ourselves and each other.  “It’s likely you know someone who is sick right now, there are things we can all do to minimize the spread of illness in our community,” Burmeister added. 

We can all protect ourselves and each other by staying home and away from work, child care, and school if you are not feeling well, avoiding close contact with others, covering your nose and mouth in public indoor areas, and utilizing remote (curbside, contactless delivery, work from home) options when possible. 

Because of the volume of cases, there may be a delay in case investigation.  If you do not receive a call from a public health professional but you have tested positive for COVID-19 you should:

  • Immediately isolate for at least 5 days (the day your symptoms started is day 0).
    • If you do not have symptoms the day you got tested is day 0.
  • If, after 5 days, your symptoms are getting better and you do not have a fever you may return to normal activities while wearing a mask in all public settings for an additional 5 days (10 days total).

If you have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID, there is a high likelihood that you are also infected. You should quarantine for 5 days and monitor yourself for symptoms. If, after 5 days you remain symptom free, you can return to normal activities while wearing a mask for an additional 5 days. If you develop symptoms, get tested and isolate.

As of January 10, 54% of Mesa County residents are fully vaccinated with more than 30-thousand booster doses (approximately 21%) administered. All Mesa County residents age 5 and older are eligible to be vaccinated. The vaccine is widely available in our community at numerous pharmacies, mobile clinics, and the Community Vaccination Site at Mesa County Public Health. Walk-ins are accepted at most locations, scheduling an appointment is also an option. MCPH is administering third (booster) doses which are now authorized five months after the initial series for Moderna and Pfizer recipients and two months after a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In response to this current wave, MCPH will update all metrics of the data dashboard daily (M-Sun) so our residents can monitor the data and make informed decisions. Stay up to date by visiting health.mesacounty.us.

Related Resources: Updated Isolation and Quarantine Guidance [English] [Spanish]