SALYERSVILLE – New COVID-19 cases doubled in Magoffin over the past week as vaccination appointments seemingly are declining.
Magoffin County Public Health Director James “Pete” Shepherd told the Independent there were 14 new cases this week, compared to seven last week, noting that none of the new cases had been vaccinated, but there were no other patterns they could find with the influx of cases.
To date, 1,072 people have tested positive for COVID-19 from Magoffin County, 14 since last week’s paper printed. The death rate stands at 20 COVID-19 related deaths in Magoffin, which includes the deaths reported from the Salyersville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
“We had eight cases on Monday, which is the most we’ve had in a day in several weeks,” Shepherd said.
Two weeks ago the state sent the health department an extra 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine, so they declined last week’s 100-dose allotment and, with fewer people signing up for vaccination appointments, they declined this week’s allotment.
“This isn’t forever,” Shepherd said. “They won’t keep sending us the vaccines if we can’t use them all up, so get the vaccine while you can.”
As it stands right now, the Magoffin County Health Department is giving second doses of the vaccine on Tuesdays and first doses on Thursday. Currently, vaccinations are by appointment only, but Shepherd said if they have the doses available, they will accept same-day call-ins or walk-ins.
The Magoffin County Health Department is scheduling people 18 and older for the vaccines, with Shepherd noting that anyone over the age of 18 can call and get an appointment to be vaccinated against the virus. People can call the Magoffin County Health Department at 606-349-6212 to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine.
Walgreens is taking appointments for the vaccine, with people able to go online at www.walgreens.com to schedule their first and second appointment for the Pfizer vaccine. People will have to fill out a brief questionnaire to determine eligibility and make or sign into their Walgreens account to schedule the appointments.
Also available in this region, people can still call or go online to get on the vaccine list at any of the following providers: Paul B. Hall Medical Center, Highlands ARH, Pikeville Medical Center, Kings Daughters in Ashland, ARH West Liberty and Saint Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead.
As it stands, the CDC has released that the vaccines are effective for at least six months, but studies are still being done to determine the full time of effectiveness.
With the governor announcing how many vaccinations are required to relax COVID-19 restrictions in the state, Shepherd estimated 30% of Magoffin County’s population is now vaccinated. The national average is 25%, he said.
As vaccinations slowing down throughout the region, Shepherd urged everyone to get the vaccine before it gets harder to find a vaccination site.
“It’s going to be a lot more difficult as we go along,” Shepherd said. “You may have to travel or go somewhere else and it’s only going to get harder to get it.”
With the sharp decrease in hospitalizations and severity of symptoms, Shepherd said the local numbers are showing that the vaccines work.
“You still have to wear a mask if you’ve been vaccinated, but if you’re in close contact with someone that has to be quarantined, you won’t have to be quarantined,” Shepherd explained another good reason to sign up to be vaccinated. “The positive person will have to be quarantined, even if they have been vaccinated, but you can still go about your merry way.”
While Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines have been put on hold for now, there weren’t any in-county locations distributing the brand, though Shepherd said he expects the hold to scare more people from getting the other brands that haven’t had any serious issues reported.
When asked about the safety of the vaccine, Shepherd noted he’s been vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine for three months now.
“It’s been proven safe,” Shepherd said. “We’ve had 20 deaths over the past year and they range between the ages of 43 and 98. It’s just common sense to me. The more people who take it, the less it spreads, and the less people get sick.”
Shepherd also explained that having the virus once does not make people immune to catching it, again, with the CDC stating that it will generally protect the person for up to 90 days, though there have been at least two cases in Magoffin County where people have tested positive for the virus, again, less than 90 days after having COVID-19.
He also noted that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are very effective with all strands of the coronavirus, and that even when someone does contract the virus, they likely will not require hospitalization.