FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2021
Heather Thomas, 425.508.4980
New Data Shows Vaccines Continuing to Reduce Hospitalizations and Save Lives
Report also highlights large number of people not answering public health calls
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – The COVID-19 vaccines continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, including against the delta variant. We continue to see highly effective protection against hospitalizations and severe outcomes for people who are fully vaccinated.
In its latest data report, the Snohomish Health District shares an updated look at cases by vaccination status. The rate of unvaccinated individuals requiring hospitalization due to COVID-19 increased significantly in August compared to those fully vaccinated.
This trend also held true when looking at vaccination status among those who died from COVID-19. Of the 137 residents who have died from COVID-19 since January, 93 percent were unvaccinated.
In addition to the report, the Health District’s recently published new heat and ZIP code maps show that the ZIP codes in Snohomish County with the lowest vaccination rates are also among the high case rates during the period ending September 11.
The overall vaccination rate for the county continues to climb, with roughly 10,000 additional vaccines being administered each week. Snohomish County now has more than 68% of all eligible residents fully vaccinated and three out of four individuals 12 and up have received at least one dose.
Unfortunately, the monthly epidemiology report also highlighted a large number of people failing to return calls to public health tracers. More than half of all cases from August 1-21 were deemed “lost to follow-up” after two or more attempts to reach the individual were unsuccessful.
It is important to respond to those calls. Public health wants to ensure you are well and taking proper steps to protect yourself and your circles. Some cases are also refusing to provide the Health District with names of their close contacts or locations visited while potentially contagious, or employers are hesitating to provide information on their employees. Not only is this a failure to comply with WAC 246-101-425, but it severely hampers the Health District’s ability to do contact tracing efforts needed to stop the spread of disease.
Pfizer booster doses now recommended for some groups of people
The CDC has recommended Pfizer boosters be given six months after their second dose for:
- Older adults 65 and older, and those living in long-term care facilities.
- Adults 50-64 at high risk of severe COVID-19, due to underlying medical conditions.
- Adults 18-49 at high risk of severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions should consider a booster based on an assessment of their individual benefits and risks and consultation with their medical provider.
- Adults 18-64 whose jobs put them at high risk for COVID-19.
As the science and the virus evolves, so do policies and recommendations. Booster doses are common for many vaccines. The scientists and medical experts who developed the COVID-19 vaccines continue to closely watch for signs of waning immunity, how well the vaccines protect against new mutations of the virus, and how that data differs across age groups and risk factors.
Thousands of Snohomish County residents may now be eligible for booster shots, but there’s more guidance coming for others. Pfizer was the first vaccine to be authorized, which means its data on its ongoing effectiveness was also available first. Guidance is still forthcoming about boosters for the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines and the safety of mixing different vaccines, as well as information on potential expansion of Pfizer vaccine eligibility for those 5-11 years old.
If you are eligible for a Pfizer booster, please contact your healthcare provider or local pharmacy. While the CDC and FDA have recommended the Pfizer boosters, residents may need to wait a few days for registration and screening systems to be updated. Please be patient while everyone is making these necessary adjustments.
For help finding a COVID vaccine near you:
A calendar with community clinics offered by the Health District is available at www.snohd.org/calendar.aspx?CID=31, with booster doses anticipated to be available in early-October. Vaccines at these community-based clinics are provided at no cost to patients, regardless of insurance status.
recovered covid Patients do not need negative test to return to work
Many of healthcare partners are seeing an increased number of employers requiring their employees to submit a negative test before they can return to work. Due to the recent nationwide surge in COVID activity and supply chain issues, materials for COVID testing are scarce in many settings. While we encourage all exposed people and people with symptoms to seek testing promptly, re-testing of previously diagnosed people for the purposes of return-to-work is unnecessary and a waste of scarce testing resources.
After testing positive for COVID, a negative test is not necessary or required for persons who are not severely ill or severely immunocompromised if isolation and precautions are maintained for at least 10 days as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It is possible for a person who has tested positive for COVID to continue to test positive for several weeks. However, they are no longer infectious after 10 days. This is why the CDC states that people can discontinue home isolation when:
- At least 10 days* have passed since symptom onset, or since positive test if asymptomatic; and
- At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; and
- Other symptoms have improved.
*Note that some severely immunocompromised persons with COVID-19 may remain infectious beyond 20 days after their symptoms began. These individuals may require additional testing and consultation with infectious diseases specialists.
COVID-19 transmission increasing in washington; future hospital admissions and occupancy uncertain
The latest COVID-19 modeling and surveillance situation report from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) shows the majority of counties now have case rates above 500 per 100,000. Washington is likely to see continued high levels of cases and hospital admissions, with increasing deaths.
Report findings include:
- COVID-19 prevalence is at a new high. The current best estimate of prevalence is 0.94%, or about 1 in every 106 Washingtonians. The previous reported high was 0.64% in August 2021, or about 1 in every 156 Washingtonians. About 39% of the population remains susceptible to COVID-19 infection.
- Transmission continues to increase, but at a slower rate. On Sep. 2, the best estimate of the effective reproductive number (Re, which tells us how many new people each COVID-19 case will infect) was 1.14. On Aug. 6, this estimate was 1.49. A reproductive number above one means that cases will continue to increase. To see cases decline, the reproductive number needs to stay well below 1.0 for a substantial amount of time.
- COVID-19 deaths are increasing. The seven-day rolling average of deaths has increased rapidly, from 5-10 deaths per day in July to 27 per day by the end of August.
- Hospital admissions and occupancy for COVID-19 are still very high. After a peak of 190 daily admissions (seven-day rolling average) at the end of August, the current average has declined only slightly to 186. Both admissions and occupancy remain at very high levels. Although some recent declines are apparent as of September 18, current occupancy levels still far exceed those observed during the previous highs of winter 2020.
- Hospital projections indicate high levels of admissions and occupancy for COVID-19 are likely to persist through the fall. The projections pose two scenarios based on increasing rates of transmission, one with a lower or “modest” rate, and another with a higher or “moderate” rate. Under these scenarios, hospital admissions by the end of December could decrease, or they could increase to between 141 and 240 admissions daily. The number of beds occupied through December could decrease, or they could increase to between 1100 and 2000 beds per day.
“What this tells us is that our individual choices and behaviors today are going to determine whether or not our friends and families will have full access to health care in the near future, for any medical need, not just COVID,” said Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH, state epidemiologist for communicable diseases. “The current surge of patients is overwhelming our hospitals. With school in session and flu season almost here, our best option for getting through the surge is to wear our masks and get vaccinated.”
Washington’s rate of immunity would be enough to control hospital admissions and occupancy given a lower or “modest” increase in transmission. Under higher or “moderate” transmission, however, the rate of immunity would not be enough, and hospital admission and occupancy would increase, especially among the estimated 39% of the population susceptible to infection. Vaccinations remain highly effective at protecting against hospitalization. The best way to increase immunity and slow down transmission are to get vaccinated and wear face coverings in indoor or crowded public places.
COVID TESTING SITE SCHEDULE
The testing schedule for the week of September 27 is as follows:
- Everett site located at 3715 Oakes Avenue – Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Ash Way Park & Ride site at 16327 Ash Way in Lynnwood – open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Appointments for testing at the District’s locations are required, and registration is available at www.snohd.org/testing. Those without internet access or needing language assistance can reach the Health District’s call center at 425.339.5278 to schedule a testing appointment. The call center is staffed 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after hours or on weekends can leave a message, which will be returned on the next business day.