School nurses help with COVID-19 vaccines
Cinde Ingram, he High Point Enterprise, N.C.
(TNS) - School nurses are administering COVID-19 vaccines at all of Guilford County's mass vaccination clinics now and can vaccinate teachers and school staff once more stable vaccines are available, according to Dr. Iulia Vann, the county's public health director.
The two kinds of COVID-19 vaccines the county received so far are highly sensitive to temperature and can't be moved but once, Vann said Wednesday during a media briefing. New vaccine products may change that, she said. For example, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose and does not need the ultra-cold storage of the first two vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna. That could be an opportunity going forward with Guilford County Schools and school nurses.
"They are very aware and experienced in vaccine administration for us to be able to maybe at one point move into vaccine administration in the schools," Vann said. "We have vaccine clinics in the schools at other times when we're talking about school-aged kids that need additional vaccines to make sure that they're meeting the North Carolina requirements. That would not be a new process for us. We do that all the time."
The county continues to operate its mass vaccination sites for health care workers and people 65 and older as well as work with long-term care providers to vaccinate people in Groups 1 and 2, said Don Campbell, director of Guilford County Emergency Management.
"Right now, we have a number of planning scenarios we are working through," he said. "It really depends on when Group 3 is given the green light for us to be able to start."
If the county continues to receive 3,000 to 4,000 doses of vaccines per week, a process is in place to work educators and others in Group 3 into existing clinic sites, Campbell said.
"If we are able to get more doses and it makes sense, we would have the ability to open up a new location to be able to help serve those in Group 3, but really it all depends on how much vaccine is available and what timeframe that process looks like," Campbell said. "We have a number of plans ready to go as we get those additional details from the state."
Guilford County had recorded 36,226 cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, Vann said. The number of new cases has trended downward slightly from the peak experienced toward the end of December, which probably included cases from the holiday season, she said.
The rate of tests of Guilford residents coming back positive over the past 14 days averaged 11.2% on Tuesday, which was slightly lower than the high numbers reported over the past few months that plateaued at 14% for a few consecutive weeks, Vann said.
Another metric moving in the right direction was the number of people hospitalized, which decreased slightly to 137 from a high of 275.
"The one area of concern that we're identifying and have been closely monitoring is our death number. Our deaths are still very high," she said. "As of yesterday, we had 435 community members who have lost their lives to COVID in Guilford County. In the last 40 days since the end of the year 2020, we've added 129 additional deaths."
Vann urged people to continue to be mindful of their activities and the places they are going in order to keep themselves, their families and others in the community safe.
"We are still seeing people who are getting sick, and we're seeing a lot more people actually dying from COVID in the last few weeks," Vann said. "Keep wearing the masks, keep washing your hands, stay 6 feet apart, avoid gatherings, try to stay away if you have any type of symptoms. Even if you have different symptoms, keep in mind the possibility of COVID-19."
COVID-19 variants appearing around the world and starting to appear in Guilford County are a cause for concern because it shows the virus has a genetic change and/or mutation, Vann said.
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