Tag Archives: COVID-19 Booster Shots

Hospitals, Medical Orgs Warn of Rising Crisis; Officials Promise Masks, Home COVID Tests

by Sally James


The Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) warned the public on Jan. 6 that rising cases of COVID-19, as well as staff shortages due to illness, are challenging the ability to provide care.

The group held a media event via livestream on Jan. 6. Later the same day, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) held a separate press event and explained how millions of home-testing kits for COVID-19 will be distributed beginning late next week.

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Boosters Open Up for Wider Group, Vaccine Likely for Children 5–11

by Sally James


People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to prevent serious COVID-19 disease are eligible to get a booster, even if they don’t fall into any high-risk category. The Washington Dept. of Health (DOH) included this announcement in their virtual press conference on Oct. 27.

National vaccine regulators approved booster doses of vaccine for people who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines Oct. 20, but the recommendations differ depending on which vaccine a person originally took. Earlier this year, the Pfizer boosters were approved for people at high risk — from their age or occupation or an underlying medical condition. Regulators also approved only people at high risk, in the same categories, for Moderna boosters.

With the J&J vaccine, health officials urge all people, even those younger and with no extra risks, to come in and get a booster vaccine dose two months after their original shot of J&J. The reason for allowing boosters sooner for everyone with J&J is that a single shot seems to be less effective at protecting people than the other two-shot vaccines. The DOH estimates about 393,000 people in Washington state had a J&J vaccine.

Continue reading Boosters Open Up for Wider Group, Vaccine Likely for Children 5–11

COVID-19 Numbers Show We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet

by Sally James


Nothing about COVID-19 follows a predictable path. This week is no exception. In the past few days, there was a mixed bag of encouraging news and news of concern, both nationally and locally.

Overall, the state case rate continues to drop. According to the Washington State Dept. of Health (DOH) there are 234 cases per 100,000 people, and of those, 11 per 100,000 are in the hospital. Both numbers are down from earlier this month. 

But that good news is tinged with the reality that these are still close to numbers during the peak of last winter’s surge. Taking care of COVID-19 patients has forced hospitals to delay treatment for other patients, especially in Spokane. 

Continue reading COVID-19 Numbers Show We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet

COVID-19 Plays Halloween Trick — Again

by Sally James


The past few days have seen a confusing swirl of decisions by health experts at the federal level, but here’s how the COVID-19 vaccine dust is settling. Anyone over 65 who received the Pfizer vaccine can now get a third “booster” shot. Medical experts say the booster can improve protection against COVID-19, which gradually wanes about six months after people get the first two shots.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky announced on Thursday, Sept. 24, that the booster is available to everyone over 65 and also to health care workers, teachers, and others in high-risk jobs. She overruled the recommendation of her own advisory committee, which had excluded high-risk occupations.

Within days, vaccine providers at drive-in, pharmacy, and other outlets will likely begin taking appointments for those who qualify for the Pfizer booster. Those who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines will need to wait until those boosters are approved later in the year.

For children ages 5–11, there was also good news this week. Pfizer officials announced they will seek approval from the CDC to offer those shots later this fall, maybe by Halloween. But other experts warned that approval for the child-safe doses will require further review, and approval is not guaranteed.

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COVID-19 Forces Pro Sports Teams to Mandate Vaccine Proof for Fans

by Sally James


A late summer surge of the COVID-19 delta variant has schools scrambling to adjust to in-person learning, parents worried about the safety of unvaccinated kids, and sports fans on edge.

Local professional sports teams, including Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, and Seattle Kraken all announced that they would require proof of vaccination from fans who want to attend games. Following those announcements Tuesday, Sept. 7, the Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, and Seattle Mariners also announced similar rules to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

The rules don’t apply to fans under 12 years old, who cannot yet be vaccinated. In a story this week, the Emerald outlined the updated guidelines for student athletes.

For participants in outdoor sports and fans of all ages, the delta variant continues to spread throughout the community, requiring changes to fall plans and public health guidance.

Off the field, the Washington Hospital Association (WSHA) reported an almost 7% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide over the previous week. Some of that press conference is in this video from television station KIRO-7. WSHA leader Cassie Sauer explained that overcrowded hospitals anywhere are a problem for all hospitals, because patients are sometimes shifted to other facilities.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said the County is trying to create some vaccine verification standards that could become effective in October. These would help businesses and others quickly verify a person’s vaccine status.

In this week’s Q&A, we hope to help you make sense out of the latest COVID-19 health and safety headlines with links to credible sources.

Send your questions to us at editor@seattleemerald.org.

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Mask Mandates, School Openings, Sports, and Other Questions About COVID-19

by Sally James


The COVID-19 delta variant is behind the latest surge of coronavirus cases, prompting new mask mandates, and raising a lot of new questions, including about the safety of unvaccinated school children and playing sports. 

This week we look at some new questions and rely on County and State health officials for the latest guidance.

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