More than 58 percent of Marshall County residents ages 12 and older are now fully vaccinated. But the COVID-19 delta variant’s ease of spread has health officials concerned as fall’s cooler weather sets in and people move activities indoors.
“With the delta variant, you want more like 80 percent of people vaccinated,” said Sue Rhodes, Marshall County Health Department director. “It’s so infectious.”
Deb Hedke, infection prevention director at Community Memorial Healthcare, said that as the holidays approach “I think we will see an upswing.”
“Last year, from November to the end of January, cases were up,” she said. “It’ll be interesting to see whether that occurs again this year.”
People of all ages are now fighting the virus, Rhodes said. Early this week, 13 COVID-19 cases were active in the county ranging in age from 1 to 80. One child is hospitalized at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and seven tests were pending Tuesday at the health department.
“We’re definitely seeing more elementary school children,” Rhodes said.
The Pfizer vaccine should become available for ages 5 to 11 by sometime in November, she said.
Otherwise, vaccinations remain available for ages 12 and older, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are available for anyone 18 and older.
Pfizer booster shots are being given regularly on Tuesdays at the health department in Marysville to anyone age 18 and older who considers themself immunocompromised or are in certain other categories. For information, people can call the health department, 785-562-3485.
All of the COVID-19 shots are free.
Rhodes said there continue to be new people who arrive to get their first vaccine shots as well.
And the agency is giving influenza shots now.
Hedke said the county is experiencing a lot of RSV infections, not only among children but adults as well.
RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytal Virus.
She suspects that immunity is down a bit from people wearing masks through much of last year and few catching any viruses. That has resulted in more RSV spreading, she said.
RSV’s symptoms mirror those of COVID-19 except for COVID-19’s loss of taste and smell.
People concerned about a respiratory infection can have a Cepheid Quad test, with a nasal swab, which checks for COVID-19, influenza A and B, and RSV
“RSV is very contagious, too,” Hedke said, and is most threatening to infants.
Hedke said there are currently no COVID-19 cases in the hospital here.
“We were up to four regularly in August and September, and now it’s zero. That’s a good sign.”
Medical staff are encouraging patients get the flu shot soon and those who need it should get the COVID-19 booster six months after their second Pfizer shot.
Hospital staff, who must be vaccinated for flu, are not required to have a COVID-19 vaccine, Hedke said.
“Because of the shortage of staff, we’ll only require it if the federal government does. We can’t afford to lose employees right now.”