“It’s the key out of this,” says Midland County Public Health Director

Midland County’s Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Catherine Bodnar says the county’s current demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is low, but she continues to stress its importance. 

“It’s the key out of this.”

"When adults and adolescent family members eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine get vaccinated, younger family members in the household who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated have a reduced risk of COVID-19.”She would also like to see more people in the county vaccinated against influenza. “[This flu season will be] unpredictable, and we don’t want to see a twindemic,” says Bodnar.

A “twindemic” refers to an influenza epidemic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s a potential for hospitals to be overwhelmed and the need to have crisis (less than standard/usual) levels of care, school and work interruptions, impact on travel and leisure activities, etc.”

Over 100 flu shots were administered at Wednesday's clinic.Vaccines provide protection against severe illness and the potential of having to be admitted into the hospital.

“I would advise an individual to get both vaccines,” says Bodnar. “They could be [administered], but are not required to be, on the same day. …  If someone prefers to come back in days or a few weeks, I recommend COVID-19 first, since we are at high community transmission levels of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). It is strongly recommended to get the flu shot by the end of October, however, we continue to administer flu shots throughout the flu season. These vaccines take about two weeks to start providing protection.”

Bodnar says it’s hard to predict what type of flu season the Midland County area will have. Last year’s flu season was mild because of the mitigation people were doing last year, such as masks, social distancing, and smaller gatherings.

“We could have another mild season, but I don’t know.”

Midland County’s vaccination rate could be higher, according to Bodnar

As of Sept. 28, 66% of Midland County residents 16 years old and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, most of which are fully vaccinated. 

Boosters are available to those eligible at the COVID-19 and flu vaccine clinics.In the 16-19 age group, 52.8% have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 45.1% are fully vaccinated. 

In the 12-15 age group, 47.8% have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 43% are fully vaccinated. 

“Midland County still has a long way to go to vaccinate our population,” says Bodnar. “My goal would be to get the COVID-19 vaccine rates to at least 80% to provide good protection for the community. When adults and adolescent family members eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine get vaccinated, younger family members in the household who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated have a reduced risk of COVID-19.” 

According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least 6 months ago; additionally, they must either be over the age of 65, or 18 years and older and live in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions, or work or live in high-risk settings. 

Boosters are available to those eligible at the COVID-19 and flu vaccine clinics.

The Midland County Department of Public Health will be holding vaccination clinics all throughout flu season.This Friday, COVID-19 vaccine clinics are being held at the Midland County Department of Public Health. See the full schedule here. For more information on local COVID-19 vaccine clinics go to the County Health Department website.

“Urgent action” recommended for pregnant women

As of last week, the CDC issued a stronger recommendation for pregnant women to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Women who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), are trying to become pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future, are all encouraged to get the vaccine. According to the CDC, the benefits of vaccination outweigh any known or potential risks. 

Vaccines provide protection against severe illness and the potential of having to be admitted into the hospital.Nationally, only about 31% of pregnant women have been vaccinated. Pregnant women are at risk for serious complications from a COVID-19 infection. So far, 161 pregnant women have died of COVID-19, with 22 deaths reported in August 2021. There have been over 125,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in pregnant women, with 22,000 hospitalized. 

The majority of these complications have occurred in women who were unvaccinated. Preterm birth is a complication of COVID-19 during pregnancy that puts the newborns at risk for increased mortality and chronic health issues.   

If you're looking to get vaccinated this season, Dr. Bodnar recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine first if you haven't received it already.It’s important for pregnant women and new mothers to be vaccinated. Bodnar also stresses the importance of pregnant women to be vaccinated.

Bodnar adds that the vaccine may be approved for the 5-11 years age group by early November, pending thorough review.

Information about boosters and clinics is posted to the Midland County Health Department website.

Read more articles by Erika M. Hirschman.

A veteran freelance writer and former reporter with The Midland Daily News, Erika Hirschman has covered a wide array of topics in Midland County including education, human interest, local government and crime. Erika holds a journalism degree from Marygrove College/University of Detroit-Mercy.

 

Erika is an award-winning reporter, and has written for various newspapers and magazines in the state. When she’s not writing, Erika loves to read and travel, dance in her kitchen with her family and two dogs, and advocates for cancer treatment and research. She’s lived in Saginaw County for 25 years.