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Nevada County officials discuss booster doses

Nevada County health officials indicated this week that, if recommended at the federal level, booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 are likely to be administered through local pharmacies, among other providers.

Dr. Glennah Trochet, the county’s deputy public health officer, explained the approval process for the booster doses in a Q&A Wednesday. At that time, she said, the Food and Drug Administration had made their recommendation for booster doses, but the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices had yet to vote on the recommendation they would make to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the advisory committee had recommended that booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents, and those aged 50 to 64 with underlying health conditions.



Dr. Scott Kellermann, the county’s public health officer, said Wednesday that some traction has been achieved with local pharmacies, including Dokimos Pharmacy, on administering the booster doses.

“I think there will be adequate capacity for the boosters,” said Kellermann.




Discussing the possibility that federal health officials approve Pfizer’s vaccine for younger children, in particular the 5-to-11 age group, Kellermann said that these would most likely be primarily administered by primary care providers rather than pharmacies. Primary care providers, he explained, already administer the majority of pediatric immunizations locally.

Nevada County Director of Public Health Jill Blake said Wednesday that the state had conducted outreach with pharmacy chains about administering booster doses, and that it had received a positive response.

During its approximately five months of operation, a county-run vaccine clinic on Whispering Pines Lane in Grass Valley administered over 20,000 doses. It closed in July.

Referring to the Whispering Pines clinic, Trochet said, “Those resources are not available now, so we will be relying on our partners in health care to give those booster doses, as well as to do the childhood immunizations.”

Blake said the county continues to maintain a list of local vaccine providers on its website, noting that some are not listed through the state system MyTurn.

“So, once boosters do become available, we’ll be directing people to both MyTurn and this web page so that they can find the most convenient provider … and receive their booster shot,” said Blake.

CHANGES IN COUNTY DASHBOARD

Since last year, the county’s Public Health Department has provided regular updates regarding new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths through an online Coronavirus Dashboard.

As of this week, the dashboard no longer displays the total number of tests administered.

In a statement provided by the county, Blake said this decision was made because the number was no longer meaningful. She explained that the number had been more pertinent when there was a shortage of testing resources, but that it no longer tells a story this far into the pandemic, as there are “ample resources and many, many people testing multiple times.”

In addition, stated Blake, the number of tests administered in each county remains available to those interested as it is reported by the state.

An addition was also made to the dashboard this week: the tracking of confirmed cases in school-aged children by particular age ranges. The age ranges included in the new dashboard tab are 3-4, 5-9, 10-13, and 14-18.

According to the dashboard, these numbers, which track cumulative case counts since June 27, will be updated on a weekly basis and include only results from laboratory-confirmed PCR tests.

Blake said Wednesday that this addition was made after the county received requests for it, first from local school administrators and then from parents.

According to Blake, the age ranges included reflect those the local school community said would be most beneficial to them.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com

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