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Jackson County reports 85 new COVID-19 cases

OHSU: People under 20 now most susceptible to infection

Jackson County reported 85 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend and two additional COVID-19 related deaths.

A 60-year-old woman died at Rogue Regional Medical Center and a 75-year-old woman died at Providence Medford Medical Center. They both had underlying health conditions, according to Jackson County Public Health.

Statewide, the Oregon Health Authority recorded 2,125 new COVID-19 cases from Friday through Sunday and 58 additional COVID-19 related deaths.

On Monday, Jackson County Public Health said it hadn’t yet received Pfizer COVID-19 shots for kids ages 5-11. Kids in that age group became eligible for vaccination on Nov. 3.

Parents and guardians can reach out to their pediatrician, primary care provider or pharmacist to inquire if they will have the vaccine and when they can begin scheduling appointments. Jackson County Public Health said it will offer the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and will start scheduling appointments once the vaccine arrives.

COVID-19 shots for kids age 5-11 contain one-third the dose given to people age 12 and older. Clinical trials showed the vaccine is nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in kids ages 5-11. Two shots are given three weeks apart.

People younger than 20 account for almost half of the estimated 989,000 Oregonians who remain susceptible to infection because they haven’t achieved immunity through recent infection or vaccination, according to Oregon Health & Science University.

Younger people have lower rates of vaccination than older people.

Research shows people who achieved some level of immunity through a prior COVID-19 infection are five times as likely to get COVID-19 compared to people who got vaccinated. Immunity through vaccination is safer and more effective than through infection, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Our best estimate is that people younger than 20 make up about half of the susceptible population in Oregon,” said Peter Graven, director of the OHSU Office of Advanced Analytics. “We can now vaccinate a large share of that population, so that’s going to bring us closer to herd immunity. That’s a pretty big deal.”

OHSU projects that if 60% of newly eligible children ages 5-11 become vaccinated, it will drop the overall proportion of Oregonians susceptible to infection from 23% as of Oct. 26 to 20%.

Experts say it will be much harder for the COVID-19 virus to spread when 85% of Oregonians have immunity through vaccination or recent infection. In other words, Oregon needs to get down to 15% of the population being susceptible because they haven’t been vaccinated or recently infected with the virus.

OHSU said it’s important for adults to get vaccinated as well for the state to achieve herd immunity.

OHSU’s latest COVID-19 forecast shows that the number of hospitalized Oregonians will continue its slow descent through the holiday season. The forecast predicts hospitalizations will fall to about 200 by the new year — down from the pandemic’s peak of 1,178 on Sept. 1.

On Monday, 520 people were hospitalized in Oregon with COVID-19, OHA said.

For answers to common questions about COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 5-11 or kids and teens ages 12-17, visit govstatus.egov.com/or-oha-covid-19-vaccine-parents-guardians.

Meanwhile, a company called Curative is now offering free self-administered COVID-19 swab tests at a drive-thru testing site at the Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point, Jackson County Public Health said. Enter through Gate 1½.

People who want to be tested need to pre-register at www.curative.com. Select “Book Now,” then select Jackson County Expo and complete the registration process. People who don’t pre-register will have to do register onsite using a cellphone.

Test results will be delivered in about 48 hours via text, email or both.

Free COVID-19 vaccinations, including booster shots, for people age 12 and up are currently available at The Expo. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Enter through Gate 1½.

For information on other locations offering COVID-19 shots, see jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/COVID-19/Vaccine-Appointments/where-to-get-vaccinated-in-jackson-county.

On Monday, 55 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized in Jackson and Josephine counties, with 10 of those in intensive care units. The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds hasn’t been so low since mid-July when the summer and fall surge of COVID-19 cases was first beginning in the Rogue Valley, according to hospitalization data.

On Monday, only three COVID-19 patients were on ventilators in the Rogue Valley, another number not seen since July, hospitalization data shows.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.