Town hall updates on booster vaccinations

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Oct. 27—State epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn provided an update on booster vaccinations now available in Idaho to help combat COVID-19 at a town hall meeting.

Gov. Brad Little also attended the AARP telephone town hall meeting Tuesday with Hahn and the Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen to answer questions from residents about COVID-19 numbers and vaccines, including booster shots.

Hahn said Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all approved for booster shots. The FDA also approved mixing and matching vaccines so people can take the one that is available or their preferred shot.

Hahn also suggested that people get vaccinated before the holidays so travel and time with family doesn't spread the virus.

For those who have contracted COVID-19 and are at high risk, they can ask their health care provider for monoclonal antibodies. The antibodies have shown to be effective at keeping people out of the hospital. It is also available regardless of vaccination status. However, Hahn said, the antibodies are not a permanent treatment like a vaccine.

St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and Pullman Regional Hospital offer monoclonal antibody treatment, which requires an order from a health care provider, according to their websites.

Even those who have had COVID-19 should be vaccinated. Some diseases like the flu or the common cold can cause multiple infections as the natural immunity wears off, which seems to be the case with COVID-19, Hahn said. Natural immunity provides more short-term protection compared to having a stronger defense with the vaccine.

Several people at the town hall asked what is being done to address misinformation. Little said the state has done marketing, polling and focus groups to help combat misinformation regarding the vaccine.

Jeppesen said the most effective way to convince someone to be vaccinated is one-on-one conversations with a trusted individual like a family member or doctor. However, Little and Jeppesen both said fact-based evidence isn't enough to convince some people.

"I could not dish out enough evidence to convince them," Little said. "I'm just trying to keep people safe and get them vaccinated."

In Idaho, Nez Perce County reported the biggest increase in cases with 20 new cases since Tuesday, followed by Latah County at 19, Idaho County with eight, Clearwater County with six and Lewis County had three. The only death reported was an Idaho County man in his 80s.

On the Washington side, Whitman County had the highest increase in the region with 51 new cases since Tuesday. Asotin County reported 14 cases today and six current hospitalizations, according to Asotin County Public Health administrator Brady Woodbury. The county also had 39 breakthrough cases in October and 177 since July 1. Garfield County added three cases.

Brewster may be contacted at kbrewster@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2297

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