By Nathan Ham
Four of the six vaccination age groups in Watauga County are still below the 70% goal that Appalachian Health Care is trying to reach, according to the latest data shared on Friday.
Only 38% of Watauga County residents ages 12-17 have been vaccinated, the lowest percentage total of the six age groups. In the 18-24 age group, 46% percent of eligible residents have been vaccinated. In the 25-49 age group and the 50-64 age group, over half the populations have been vaccinated (56% of the 25-49 age group and 60% of the 50-64 age group). Of the population ages 65-74, 81% has been vaccinated, and 85% of those over the age of 75 have been vaccinated.
Overall, 21, 232 vaccinations have been administered by AppHealthCare and 53% of Watauga County’s population has had at least one vaccine shot.
Currently, Watauga County has 81 active COVID-19 cases. Ashe County has 80 active cases and Alleghany County has 15 active cases. A total of 130 individuals in the three-county area served by AppHealthCare are being actively monitored for potential COVID-19 exposure.
AppHealthCare is starting to administer booster doses of the vaccine. Based on CDC guidance, at this time, we are able to administer the third dose of Pfizer or Moderna for individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised as recommended by the CDC. This is for individuals who have already received a first and second dose of Pfizer or Moderna and who have a moderately or severely compromised immune system such as individuals who are undergoing cancer treatment, have had an organ transplant, are actively taking medications that suppress their immune system, have advanced or untreated HIV infection, or have another moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency condition. Before receiving the third dose, individuals will need to complete an attestation form stating they are eligible under the current criteria.
The Latest From Appalachian State University
Chancellor Dr. Sheri Everts sent out her weekly update from the university, which shared quite a bit of information in regards to the impact of COVID-19 on the campus:
“We continue to closely follow state and local public health guidance and monitor COVID-19 data and trends. Models indicate we will see an increase in positive cases in the coming weeks. Vigilance is critical.
All Mountaineers should get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While we are requiring face coverings in all indoor campus locations and continuing our enhanced cleaning and sanitization measures, I cannot overstate the importance of becoming fully vaccinated.
Those who are unvaccinated are 400% more likely to get COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated according to NC Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC indicates that infections, even the Delta variant, happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, and that symptoms tend to be mild. We are seeing this locally as well — severe cases and hospitalizations are occurring at much higher rates among those who are unvaccinated.
Because the likelihood of spreading the virus and variants is lower among those who are vaccinated, vaccinated individuals who have been exposed to someone with COVID are not required to quarantine if they are not exhibiting symptoms.
Ultimately, when enough people are vaccinated, everyone’s risk of contracting COVID will lessen to the point at which this virus will not be the most prevalent consideration in our daily decision-making.
With advisement from local public health, we will launch our COVID-19 data dashboard for Fall 2021 on Monday, Aug. 23, in order to inform our campus about the efficacy of our university’s COVID suppression efforts. Preliminary information indicates that more than 47% of our students and 85% of our employees have reported that they are fully vaccinated. This is good news, but we must do better.
As a reminder, those who have not provided their vaccination status will be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing. This targeted testing is already underway, and we will begin testing larger groups next week.
This week we placed the names of students, faculty and staff who have submitted their full vaccination status into a pool for prize drawings, including parking passes, $1,000 scholarships for students and tickets to Mountaineers football games. Our first winners will be notified via email this afternoon. This is just one way we are showing our appreciation for those who are helping to protect themselves, our campus and the greater community, and we will continue to do so.
As fall semester gets underway, we are once again reminded how meaningful it is to be back to a full Appalachian Experience. I am confident our students, faculty and staff will continue to prioritize the health and safety of the App State community.“