By Jessie Wagoner
After holding steady for a week, COVID-19 cases have increased significantly over the past week. Last week, the McPherson County Health Department (MCHD) reported 54 active cases of COVID-19. That number has now climbed to 97 active cases.
In a release issued by MCHD, Director Shalei Shea advises vaccine breakthrough cases are now being tracked and reported.
“MCHD has identified vaccine breakthrough cases,” Shea said. “A vaccine breakthrough case is defined as the detection of COVID-19 via antigen or PCR testing from a person that is at least 14 days past completing all recommended doses of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized COVID-19 vaccine.”
The health department has identified 44 vaccine breakthrough cases. Of those 44 cases, two individuals required hospitalization. There have been no deaths associated with vaccine breakthrough cases.
As of press time, the health department has identified 21 confirmed variant cases. The identified variants do not require additional quarantine or isolation precautions outside of what is already done for non-variant cases. Ten of the cases are of the Delta variant. The CDC and World Health Organization have stated the Delta variant spreads rapidly and can lead to more serious complications.
Cases of COVID-19 among younger people are increasing. Shea says since August, they have seen almost the same incident rate among infants to 17-year-olds and 18 to 29-year-olds and those 60 years and older.
“This is unique in the sense that I haven’t had that comparison before, zero to 17-year-olds have been the least COVID-19 diagnosed age group for the county since the beginning, but are now having new case rates similar to our two most COVID-19 diagnosed age groups,” Shea said.
Shea says other counties and states are reporting similar occurrences. She says there are some who believe the Delta variant is infecting the younger population more, which is why they are having increases. Others believe since the younger population, those below 12 years of age, aren’t eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination they are experiencing an increase.
“Whatever the reasoning is, it comes down to getting vaccinated as soon as you are eligible and staying home if you are sick or exposed,” Shea said.
Individuals who have completed the series of Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines and meet the criteria are eligible for a third additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The criteria include those who have received an organ transplant, have moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency or those currently undergoing cancer treatments. A third dose should be discussed with your physician. If it is determined a third dose would be beneficial, the vaccine can be given by your primary care physician or at the health department.
“Vaccination continues to be the number one public health prevention strategy,” Shea said. “Get vaccinated if you’re eligible, stay home if you are sick and wash your hands.”
Contact the McPherson County Health Department or your primary care physician to schedule a vaccine appointment.