Allegheny County Seeks to Reassure Residents about Vaccine’s Safety
More than half of the county's adult population is partially vaccinated but the number of COVID-related hospitalizations is still rising.
Now that supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine are more plentiful in Allegheny County, the next challenge for officials is convincing people who are hesitant to get the shot.
“The fewer people that get vaccinated, the longer this virus will linger in our lives and the best way to defeat this virus is to continue the vaccine rollout as fast as possible,” said Allegheny County Health Dr. Debra Bogen at a briefing Wednesday. Bogen’s appeal comes after the CDC recommended a pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six women developed blood clots within two weeks of receiving the shots. Approximately 6.8 million people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“As your health department director, I urge you not to view this pause as a signal that our local, state or federal vaccination efforts are in any way flawed,” she said. “Rather, view this response as evidence that the health care officials will do and have done decisive action at even the slightest hint of an issue.”
More than half of the county’s adult population has now received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Among those 65 and older, more than three-quarters are at least partially vaccinated.
Bogen says that within the next few weeks providers may pivot from mass vaccination clinics to a “boots on the ground” approach by sending staff into community areas like churches to “reach people who may be a little hesitant and just need something more local.”
As more and more people are vaccinated, the county has begun to collect data on breakthrough cases – those who test positive for COVID after receiving a shot. Bogen says that so far, the data is encouraging. As of April 13, the health department is aware of 109 breakthrough cases out of 213,000 people vaccinated. That amounts to about 0.05%.
Fourth Wave Continues
The county’s fourth surge in cases during the pandemic continues. Bogen says there continue to be several hundred new cases reported each day and the county’s positivity rate is at 9.6%, a full percentage point higher than a week ago. The number of hospitalizations and deaths is also on the rise.