Werner: County residents are still getting vaccinated

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

Dubois County’s active COVID-19 cases seem to be slowly declining, said Shawn Werner, administrative director of the Dubois County Health Department. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of a surge in the upcoming fall and winter months, he said, although there is still a steady stream of county residents getting their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Generally, respiratory viruses pick up in the fall and winter months, but COVID has been totally different,” Werner said, referencing the recent uptick in the summer. “The county seems to be on a downward trend, so hopefully we’ll get out without a surge, but it’s hard to predict how things will go with other potential variants.”

Dubois County reported Monday 35 new COVID-19 cases and another death since Friday, according to the Indiana State Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard. A total of 128 people in the county have died of COVID-19, along with 8,133 cases in the county since the pandemic began. Currently, the county is still in the orange advisory level.

The county health department is still seeing about 100 to 120 COVID-19 vaccinations a day with the help of the new drive-thru. The majority are people getting Pfizer booster shots, but there is still a fair amount of people getting their first dose, Werner said.

“Obviously it’s nothing like it was in the beginning, but there’s still people coming in every day,” he said. “I think with Delta, as strong as it was, it seemed to have pushed a good amount of people to get vaccinated.”

There are 21,724 fully vaccinated individuals in the county, according to the Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard. Cases in schools across the county are down, too — as of last week, every school had no more than six new student cases, and most had zero.

Representatives with the county health department also recently visited local schools for optional COVID-19 vaccination clinics. The department visits schools every year to offer regular vaccinations, Werner said, so it added the COVID-19 vaccination this year for convenience purposes, now that people age 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine.

“There was a fair amount of kids that participated, so that was definitely a success,” Werner said.

Currently, the health department only offers Pfizer boosters, but staff will meet later this week to get more information on boosters for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, he said. There will likely be an even bigger uptick in vaccinations at the department when the Moderna booster is available, because that’s what the majority of Dubois County residents have if they were vaccinated in the county.

The health department laid out eligibility criteria for the Pfizer booster shot in a recent press release. The release stated that people age 65 and older, long-term care residents and those ages 50-64 with underlying health conditions are recommended to get a booster. Those outside of that age range with underlying health conditions are also eligible but not typically considered as high-risk, Werner said.

In general, the health department is giving the same advice on protecting oneself from COVID-19 as it has in recent months: masking is recommended, especially in crowded indoor settings, and social distancing is recommended when possible. Getting vaccinated is a personal choice, Werner said, but he recommends it.

Of the 229 ICU beds in District 10, about 27% are in use by COVID-19 patients, and about 45% are in use by non-COVID-19 patients.

“With what hospital numbers are and what we’ve been seeing locally, it’s still the majority of people that are having severe illnesses are the unvaccinated people,” Werner said. “So we still highly encourage people to protect themselves and get vaccinated.”




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