Booster shots for everyone 18 and older coming soon

Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 7:00 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County coronavirus cases have spiked to 391 cases in a day matching totals not seen since last winter. The reason why remains elusive.

“The reality has been over the last several days we’re seeing a significant increase in cases,” said Deputy County Administrator Jan Lesher.

So much so she’s sending daily updates to the county board members so they have not just the latest information but also to see how much it’s changing day to day.

“I’m not sure we understand this yet,” said Chief Medical Office for Pima County Dr. Francisco Garcia. “The reason for this is complicated and multi-factional.”

Likely because the vaccine loses efficacy after six months, school is in session, 40% of the population is not vaccinated and many people are not wearing masks anymore.

The county is likely tomorrow to announce anyone 18+ will be eligible for a booster. That will give the county an important tool to fight the spike in cases.

Although those 65+ are already eligible but it appears the number getting it is lagging, maybe in part, because most don’t realize the efficacy of the vaccines declines after six months.

“When I see vaccinated patients that are still being hospitalized, they are in their 70′s usually, 80′s,” said Dr. Matt Heinz, a county supervisor who is also a physician in a local hospital. “They have been vaccinated but it was six or seven months ago but they have not received a booster dose.”

But it’s not just the booster shots which may be contributing to the spike in cases.

Two weeks ago, the county began vaccinating children ages five to 11 and has vaccinated 69,000 of them.

But that still leaves about 140,000 who are unvaccinated.

Combine that with the fact 40% of Pima County residents are not vaccinated and it becomes a volatile combination.

“I’m worried we’re in a bit of trouble here because school is in session,” Dr. Heinz said. “So you have kids in school spreading virus around like they tend to do and bringing it back into their homes.”

As the weather cools, more people spend more time indoors where the delta variant spreads easily. With mask wearing dropping off, it adds to the number of cases.

With the holidays coming up, it has health officials concerned even more.

“So all these things kind of come together to make this a huge problem,” Dr Heinz said. “And even if we don’t see the same level of numbers we save eight to ten months ago I think we’re in for an unpleasant winter and holiday season unfortunately.”

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