Augusta Health COVID-19 patient deaths and admissions increase as holidays near

·5 min read
Emergency Department physician Dr. David Fosnocht receives his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Nurse Jackie Sims on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, at Augusta Health in Fishersville. The healthcare system says it's under stress from the influx of COVID patients.
Emergency Department physician Dr. David Fosnocht receives his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Nurse Jackie Sims on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, at Augusta Health in Fishersville. The healthcare system says it's under stress from the influx of COVID patients.

FISHERSVILLE – The first vials of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Augusta Health one year ago Dec. 15, 2020. The first vaccinations were given to frontline employees. In 2021, vaccination clinics expanded according to Virginia Department of Health's timeline as availability increased.

One year later, Augusta Health is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 activity in the community, according to a news release

Augusta Health's testing positivity rate is 17%. COVID-19 inpatient admissions are up to 29, with three deaths over the past week. In comparison, the inpatient COVID-19 census was 13 on Dec. 6.

As of Dec. 13, 16 new positive cases of COVID were diagnosed at Augusta Health testing sites. Last weekend, 38 new positive cases diagnosed at Augusta Health testing sites. Since the pandemic began, Augusta Health has diagnosed 10,012 cases of COVID-19.

"Please vaccinate, wear masks indoors even if vaccinated, wash hands frequently and stay socially distant from others when possible — especially during indoor holiday gatherings," said Augusta Health.

Vaccination eligibility

Augusta Health is vaccinating everyone age 5 and older who lives, works or goes to school in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for individuals age 18 and over. Pfizer vaccine is authorized for individuals age 5 and older; a parent or legal guardian must be present to consent to vaccination of those under the age of 18. Booster criteria vary by vaccine, so please be aware of the criteria for the vaccine selected, said Augusta Health.

Children 5-11 years old:

To ensure patient safety and in awareness of the different dosage for the 5-11 year-old age group, there are separate clinics for ages 5-11 only at the on-campus location. A parent or legal guardian must be present to consent to vaccination for those under the age of 18.

Booster eligibility:

Anyone over the age of 16 years old can receive third-dose COVID-19 booster shots. Eligibility for boosters was expanded to include 16- and 17-year-olds by the FDA and CDC last week.

When can you get the booster?

  • At least six months after you completed your Pfizer or Moderna series

  • If you're immune suppressed and have completed either the Pfizer or Moderna series, you can get a third dose in 28 days

  • At least two months after Johnson & Johnson vaccination

Which booster can you get?

  • If you are 18 or older, you can get any booster shot you prefer.

  • If you are 16-17 years old, you can get a Pfizer booster.

For patient safety concerns, vaccines will be offered on specific days. Make an appointment for a clinic that is offering the vaccine you want. If you are registering for a booster, and are switching vaccine, make an appointment for the type of booster you want. For example, if you originally received a Pfizer vaccine, but would like a Moderna booster, make an appointment in a Moderna clinic.

Remember to bring your vaccination record card to the booster appointment.

Visit vaccinate.augustahealth.com to make appointment for all clinics.

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Primary care offices

Vaccinations for COVID-19 continue in all Augusta Medical Group primary care offices. Patients who prefer to receive a vaccination from their personal physician should contact their doctor's office to be scheduled into the next available vaccination appointment block.

Community-based clinics

This week, Augusta Health's Community Vaccination Team is providing boosters and vaccinations at Bridgewater College, Glossbrenner United Methodist Church in Buffalo Gap and Allen Chapel in Staunton.

To date, more than 10,000 vaccines have been administered at clinics within vulnerable communities by the Augusta Health Task Force.

Community organizations that would like to partner with Augusta Health for a Vaccination Clinic can contact VaccinationTaskForce@augustahealth.com for more information on the requirements.

On-campus vaccination clinics

Augusta Health asks that you make an appointment for on-campus clinics. Go to vaccinate.augustahealth.com to view the links and schedule an appointment. Information about new clinics, the links and the criteria for each link, are posted as available.

On-campus clinics this week:

Tuesday, Dec. 14: Pfizer Clinic for children 5-11 years old from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

This clinic is for those ages 5-11 only. A parent or guardian must be present to consent to vaccination of the child under the age of 18. Wednesday, Dec. 15: Pfizer Clinic from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for those age 12 and older.

For first dose and second dose available to those age 12 and older, booster dose available to those age 16 and older. Please verify criteria before registration.

Thursday, Dec. 16: Pfizer Clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for those age 12 and older.

For first dose and second dose available to those age 12 and older, booster dose available to those age 16 and older. Please verify criteria before registration.

Friday, Dec. 17: Pfizer Clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for those age 12 and older.

For first dose and second dose available to those age 12 and older, booster dose available to those age 16 and older. Please verify criteria before registration.

Monday, Dec. 20: Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Clinics from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for those age 18 and older. For first dose and second dose available to those age 12 and older, booster dose available to those age 16 and older. Please verify criteria before registration.

Visit vaccinate.augustahealth.com to make appointment for all on-campus clinics.

Vaccination call center

Not everyone has access to the internet. Others just have questions. For assistance, call Augusta Health at (540) 332-5122. Homebound patients are vaccinated through a pilot program with Central Shenandoah EMS. Contact the vaccination call center for more information.

Monique Calello (she/her) is The News Leader's health reporter. You can reach her at mcalello@newsleader.com.

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This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Augusta Health COVID patient deaths and admissions rise as holidays near

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