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Kittson County case counts decreasing, but not across finish line yet


Content Providers(s): CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS Photo Credit: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

COVID case counts have been going down compared to the last couple weeks, Kittson County Public Health Director Jeanna Kujava reported back on February 14. She’s unsure why, citing the recent temporary mask mandates, people moving about less, and people doing testing at home versus at a clinic and these cases not being reported as possible reasons.

“I can’t say for sure the reasoning,” Kujava said, “but they are seeming to be kind of evening out.”

Kujava also noted how the county isn’t quite done with COVID yet, highlighting the past and future vaccination opportunities across the county. Kujava also talked about the COVID omicron variant, briefly about other illnesses impacting the county, and the latest county vaccination rates.

The county continues to offer various public health vaccination opportunities. This includes the chance to make a vaccine appointment at the Karlstad or Hallock clinics, or attend the various public health clinics. People can call hospital registration at 218-843-3612 to schedule appointments for the public health clinics occurring around the county.

At the Karlstad Clinic, they hosted a public health clinic for the Moderna vaccine on February 16 and a public health clinic for the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11-year-old children and those 12 years old and up on February 23 from 4 pm to 6 pm.

At the public health office in Hallock, they were scheduled to host a public health clinic for the Moderna vaccine on February 18 and will hosting another clinic for the Moderna vaccine on February 25 from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Kujava added how she anticipates putting out more public health clinic dates in March.

The demand remains for vaccines, but not as strong as in the past. Kujava attributed this to various potential factors, such as more vaccination opportunities throughout the region or those who have chosen to be vaccinated now having completed their vaccine series and booster.

Kujava did touch base on the Pfizer vaccinations for younger children— those six months to four-years old. She said they were anticipating that this vaccine for this age group would be approved, but Pfizer made an announcement last weekend that it was not approving it yet.

“We’ve been preparing to add dates to our calendar for offering that vaccine for the youngest Minnesotans,” Kujava said. “However, they’re gathering more information before they’re going to be sending that out or allowing that to be available under the emergency authorization use.”

This tells Kujava that the state’s youngest residents— those often without a mask due to being too young— are without the option to be vaccinated yet.
“It’s important to just be mindful of symptoms and their exposure to COVID as well,” Kujava said about this youngest age group.

As for the January vaccine clinics Kittson County public health hosted, Kujava said the turnout for them would have been better if the weather would have cooperated. It had to cancel one clinic due to weather, but was able to successfully reschedule the people from this date.

“I was really expecting more, just a stronger turnout, to be honest,” Kujava said. “I feel like there’s a lot of people that are eligible for their booster shots, but they aren’t coming through the doors just yet. I think, partly, it could be that people are ready to move on and start making some changes in just how they’re dealing with this long, ongoing pandemic.”

Kujava also attributed the possible lower turnout to some residents still living in the south during the winter.

“We vaccinated a lot of people at those mass clinics in the past,” Kujava said, “and it could be that those that go south for the winter just aren’t here yet and are getting their booster elsewhere.”

In terms of vaccination rates, Kujava is seeing some progress.

In terms of one-dose, the county is hovering around 60% for 5-12 year old individuals, 87% for 65 and older individuals— close to that 90% mark Kujava would like to see the county reach— and, according to the CDC rate, 84.7% for those 18 and older individuals.

As for the completed vaccine series rates within the county, for those 5 years old and older the percentage sits at 58.6%, for those 65 and older at 83.8% and, according to the CDC rate, for those 18 and older at 77.7%.

“The numbers don’t look quite as nice when you judge it by completed vaccine series,” Kujava said, “but I just feel like we’re still making progress and that’s all that matters.”

COVID cases are going down lately in the county, but they remain here, as do the county vaccination opportunities.

“I just think that everybody’s kind of ready to be done with this,” Kujava said, “but we’re not quite across the finish line yet.”

To see the completed story, read the February 24 issue of the North Star News in print or online.

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