Mitchell County Public Health Coordinator Jessa Ketelsen has seen the efficacy of the recent waves of vaccination with her own eyes.
It is moving Iowa one step closer to normal, but more importantly, it could save lives.
In many households, not everyone has been vaccinated. In some homes, it is only one person. In these instances, if someone in the family has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the vaccinated individual has not gotten sick. It is anecdotal proof that the mass inoculations are working.
Ketelsen indicates that two weeks after receiving the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, a person can again be around others. They do not need to social distance, wear a mask or take other precautions.
However, it may be beneficial for those who have received vaccines to follow the safety recommendations, since the vaccines do not have a 100 percent efficacy rate. According to estimates by the CDC, effectiveness was approximately 90 percent two weeks after an individual received the second shot.
This week, Public Health is vaccinating approximately 1,600 people. Ketelsen said the average number of those vaccinated in one week is around 800. It varies on the number of doses sent from the State of Iowa that are available in Mitchell County.
Next week, on Tuesday and Thursday, there will be a couple clinics open offering the new Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccination.
“We’ll continue to get vaccines,” Ketelsen said. “But at a smaller rate.”
Like with its predecessors Moderna and Pfizer, those vaccinated with a Johnson & Johnson dose may return to normal contact with others after two weeks.
However, the efficacy rate of the Johnson & Johnson shot is lower than the two-shot vaccines. According to the CDC, clinical trials show a rate of effectiveness between 65 and 70 percent. The rate is higher in protecting against the more severe forms of COVID-19.
“I would take any vaccine at this time,” Ketelsen said.
Going forward, all three vaccines should be available in Mitchell County. If they have not been vaccinated, she encourages people to wear masks, social distance and stay home if sick.
“We have lots of excited people here,” Ketelsen said, “today and everyday getting their vaccination, and ready for things to get back to normal.”
While Public Health has seen a mild spike in COVID-19 cases, it could be worse.
“We’re sitting at a pretty good percentage,” Ketelsen said.
The 14-day average positivity rate is 2.8 percent. There are 16 active cases as of April 7, and recently Public Health has seen on average only a couple of new cases a week.
Ketelsen believes the spike is the result of Saint Patrick’s Day and Easter, as families and communities came together to celebrate the holidays. The pleasant weather of spring might also be a factor in increasing contact with others.
“Which is fine,” Ketelsen said. “Just practice social distancing and good hygiene when you get together.”
Public Health is still as busy as they have ever been, with what Ketelsen describes as a great team, with great volunteers.
“We’re definitely thankful for everyone,” Ketelsen said. “We’re all staying busy getting people vaccinated and trying to protect our county.”
Jason W. Selby is the community editor for the Mitchell Country Press News. He can be reached at 515-971-6217, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.