More than 50% of Piedmont now vaccinated
With cases continuing to slow over the last week, just over half of those eligible in the Piedmont Health District have now been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The news comes following a major announcement regarding the future of Moderna/Johnson & Johnson booster shots in America.
The health district has continued to see slight declines in COVID-19 cases this week. According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), between Monday, Oct. 12, and Monday, Oct. 18, Prince Edward County saw 38 new cases of the virus.
Buckingham County experienced 43 new COVID-19 cases over the last week, and Cumberland was up 11 cases as of Oct. 18. Charlotte County saw 25 new cases since last week, and Lunenburg was up 30 cases.
The area did see six reported COVID-related deaths last week; one in Prince Edward, three in Cumberland, one in Charlotte and one in Lunenburg.
According to VDH, all counties in the health district are currently seeing a decline in cases with the exception of Charlotte County where cases are currently categorized as fluctuating.
The state has also continued to enjoy a drop in virus cases. On Monday, Oct. 18, Virginia reported a total of 1,227 new COVID-19 cases, down dramatically from 2,012 cases reported the previous Monday. The state’s seven day moving average sat at 2,039 on Oct. 18, a noticeable decrease from 2,443 cases the week prior.
Longwood University in Farmville was reporting 10 active cases among its campus population as of the latest update Oct. 17. The university has seen 98 total cases since Aug. 15.
Hampden-Sydney College was reporting three active virus cases and three individuals quarantining as of its most recent update Oct. 14. The college has had a total of eight student cases and three employee cases this semester.
As of Friday, Oct. 15, Centra Health was reporting 71 total cases of the virus in its hospitals; 63 cases at Lynchburg General and eight at Centra Southside Community Hospital in Farmville. Of those 71 patients, 15 were in the ICU, 10 of which were being ventilated. 17 of the 71 patients, including two in the ICU, were vaccinated, while the remaining 54 patients, 13 of which were in the ICU, were unvaccinated.
On Monday, Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Maria Almond noted 51.3% of people age 12 and older have been fully vaccinated in the Piedmont Health District.
“Every vaccination counts, and I applaud the ongoing efforts of our community to stay healthy together,” Almond said.
“The Piedmont district continues to see ongoing modest declines in our case numbers,” Almond noted. “However, we must continue to be vigilant in maintaining behaviors that protect the most vulnerable and those unable to be vaccinated. The single most important act we can do for our community’s health is to get vaccinated. As the cooler weather drives us inside, there is a risk for increased spread of many seasonal respiratory illnesses and COVID-19. Our health care workers need your preventative efforts to keep our community healthy and our hospital beds available.”
VDH recently began providing numbers regarding the percentage of booster shots administered in individual counties.
Vaccination rates in each county of the health district, as of Monday, were as follows:
Prince Edward: population fully vaccinated: 40.2%, adults with booster shot: 1.4%
Buckingham: population fully vaccinated: 47%, adults with booster shot: 1.7%
Cumberland: population fully vaccinated: 43.3%, adults with booster shot: 1.4%
Charlotte: population fully vaccinated: 46.5%, adults with booster shot: 1.8%
Lunenburg: population fully vaccinated: 46.9%, adults with booster shot: 1.2%
On Monday, Almond highlighted that while boosters are now available only for those who received an initial series of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, an advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted last week in favor of recommending booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
“This is just the first step towards full authorization,” Almond noted. “Moderna and J&J boosters will not be available in Virginia until the FDA issues an updated authorization and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) releases their guidelines. The vaccine advisory committee to the CDC will meet on Oct. 20-21 after which final guidance will likely be released.”
Booster shots for the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine are currently recommended for those 65 years of age and older, those living in long-term care facilities and those 18 years of age and up who are at increased risk of COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions or where they work or live.
“Boosters help increase the immune response, which is particularly important for those who have weakened immune systems due to age or illness or those who are continually at risk for exposure,” Almond said.
Almond added the FDA’s advisory committee will be discussing vaccination for children ages 5-11 on Oct. 26.
Free COVID-19 testing continues to be available at the Prince Edward Farmville Youth Association (PEFYA) recreational center at 2750 Layne Street Wednesdays from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. through Nov. 17.
A testing site will also be open Monday, Oct. 18, in Keysville at Southside Virginia Community College from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. VDH currently administers PCR testing with results usually returned 2-3 days after testing.