By Callie Hietala
Vaccination counts continue to trend upward in Martinsville and Henry County, with more than 300 area residents getting a vaccine during the week of September 19-23, according to Nancy Bell, Public Information Officer for the West Piedmont Health District.
Bell said that vaccine rates in various communities also are heartening.
As of Wednesday morning, 47.7 percent of the eligible Black community in Martinsville and Henry County were fully vaccinated, while 45.1 percent of Latinx people and 45.2 percent of the Caucasian population had received the vaccine.
“I really think that the Delta variant, all the sickness and the severity of it, are encouraging people to get vaccinated,” she said.
Bell also indicated that authorization of a booster shot, currently authorized only for a limited group of people, is expected to expand to the 65+ community within the next few weeks. She said that communities should not expect to see large vaccine clinics for a booster shot like the ones set up in the early days of vaccine availability. Rather, those vaccines may be obtained at a local pharmacy or physician’s office when the booster is authorized.
Dr. Sheranda Gunn-Nolan, Sovah Health’s Chief Medical Officer, said “both of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) have no medical condition that would preclude you from taking that vaccine. Because of the way that they work, because of their lack of preservatives and other ingredients, they are tolerable even for people who have not been able to tolerate other vaccines.”
Incidents of medical issues arising in a study group were virtually the same as compared to the general population, she said, and added that “with or without the vaccine, that clot was going to form.”
The medical issues that have arisen among people who got the vaccine likely would have occurred regardless of the vaccine, she added.
For instance, “I go and get the vaccine and I get hit by a bus. Everyone can tell me that that vaccine is not the cause of me getting hit by a bus, but when anything else happens for the next few months, everybody wants it to be the vaccine,” she said. “We want something to blame.”
Gunn-Nolan also encouraged the community to get a flu shot.
“You can have COVID, and you can have the flu,” she said. “That’s not a rodeo anybody wants to try to survive.”
Both vaccines can be given at the same time, she said, adding that the first week of October is the “sweet spot” to ensure the flu shot will last you through flu season.
“The differentiation of symptoms between the flu and COVID” are going to be difficult to distinguish, she said. The flu will last about a week while COVID could last two weeks or longer, which is far too long to wait to get tested, she said, and encouraged anyone experiencing symptoms to take advantage of the many testing locations to determine whether it is COVID-19.
Bell said that the West Piedmont Health District’s Facebook page is active, and an open forum for questions about COVID-19 or the vaccinations. She also said the health district’s website has been updated with a parent toolkit to help parents determine whether a child should be sent to school.
To find a local vaccine site, visit vaccine.gov. To learn more about the status of COVID-19 in the state and in our communities or to access the new parent toolkit, visit vdh.virginia.gov.