Weekly Ottawa County COVID-19 Update - October 1, 2021

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October 1, 2021

Resources Available Online  |  miOttawa.org/COVID19

PH updates

COVID-19 Resources - miOttawa.org/COVID19

COVID-19 Pandemic Exhaustion

Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) understands that we are all exhausted from the pandemic. It has been a long, tiring year of new policies, prevention measures, public health orders, etc. COVID-19 has been impacting our lives in several ways and we all want to return back to our "normal" way of life before the COVID-19 pandemic. People are tired, scared and angry. In order to reduce the negative effects of the pandemic, we need to reduce the number of COVID-19 infections and the rate of transmission to protect the health of our community. While there is no predicted end date to the pandemic, we are capable of controlling diseases as we have in the past.

OCDPH is committed to working together to assure conditions that promote and protect our health. It is the statutory duty of OCDPH to prevent an imminent danger that could result in disease, death or physical harm. Mandates, public orders, prevention measures may not be fun but they are temporary and OCDPH's main priority is the health and wellbeing of our community. 

Although our community may feel divided because of differences of opinions, we are all in this together. We hope everyone can understand how important it is to address public health issues to protect everyone in Ottawa County.

Credibility of Sources

Determining the credibility of sources takes training and experience. OCDPH has staff of highly trained public health professionals including a medical doctor, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, nurses, nurse practitioners, environmental health specialists, health educators and others compiling data and studying available research to make educated public health decisions. OCDPH obtains information from trusted sources such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, Michigan Primary Care Association, Michigan Hospital Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, local infectious disease and pediatrics specialists and research associated with highly respected institutions.


CDC Data Tracker

Ottawa County Data Hub

Step-By-Step Guide to Evaluating Credibility

How to Evaluate Health Information on the Internet: Questions and Answers (NIH)

Evaluating Health Information (UCSF)

Medline Plus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing

Pfizer Booster Shots

The FDA, CDC and State of Michigan have authorized booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer booster is authorized for individuals who have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 6 months or longer and belong to one of these three eligible groups:

  • Anyone ages 65 and older.
  • Anyone ages 18 an older with a medical condition that increases their risk of severe COVID-19 illness, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease and others.
  • Anyone ages 18 or older who lives or works in a high risk setting for being exposed to COVID-19, such as residents of congregate living facilities, healthcare workers, first responders, educators, childcare staff, grocery store workers, and others.

At this time, people vaccinated with the Moderna or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines are not eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose. Pfizer vaccine providers such as the Ottawa County Department of Public Health may provide booster doses for eligible individuals during their current vaccine clinics. Many providers are in the process of setting up additional opportunities and locations for Pfizer booster doses. Please be patient as these additional clinics are planned. Check for Pfizer vaccine locations throughout West Michigan at VaccinateWestMI.com/clinics. For more information about health department vaccine clinics and the Pfizer booster dose, please visit our website at miOttawa.org/Covid19. Both walk-in and by appointment options are available. For those needing assistance scheduling an appointment, call the Michigan COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136 or 2-1-1.

*Remember to bring vaccination card upon arrival

CDC MMWR: Hospitalizations Among Children Increased in August 2021

Child Hospitalizations

On September 3, 2021, the CDC released a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Among children and adolescents, COVID-19 cases, emergency department visits and hospital admissions increased in August. Hospitalizations were higher in states with lower population vaccination coverage and lower in states with higher vaccination coverage. 


Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)


VAERS is an early warning system used to monitor adverse events that may happen after vaccination. VAERS is one component of a comprehensive vaccine safety monitoring program in the United States. It is one of several robust systems CDC and the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) use to help ensure vaccines authorized or approved in the United States, including COVID-19 vaccines, are closely monitored for safety. 

VAERS Limitations

VAERS data alone cannot show that an adverse event following COVID-19 vaccination was caused by the vaccine. Anyone can report an event to VAERS, and the reports may contain information that's incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable. If a health problem is reported to VAERS, that doesn't mean that the vaccine caused the problem. It warns vaccine safety experts of potential problems that they may need to assess, and it alerts them to take further action, as needed. Vaccine safety experts review and investigate all reports of serious adverse events submitted to VAERS. Data is collected to detect potential trends and patterns in an adverse event. Data from VAERs should always be interpreted with its limitations in mind.


VAERS and Vaccine Safety: How it Works


Watch this video to learn more about CDC's VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) safety program. 

Herd Immunity

Herd immunity can be achieved in two ways: natural infection and vaccines. Natural infection involves getting infected with COVID-19 and passing it on to the rest of the population. This method does not guarantee protection from getting COVID-19 again. With natural infection, there's a higher chance of severe illness of COVID-19 which can lead to hospitalizations and death. Natural infection could lead to serious complications and increase the total amount of deaths caused by the virus.

Herd immunity could cause a large number of infections which could lead to serious complications and millions of deaths, especially among older people and those who have existing health conditions. The health care system could quickly become overwhelmed. Vaccines are the best way to achieve herd immunity. 


Partial Vaccination Information and Research

Partial vaccination is defined as receiving less than the full number of doses needed to complete the primary series and be considered fully vaccinated. Since Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require two doses in order to be considered fully vaccinated, receiving only one dose of those vaccines would classify you as partially vaccinated. 

There has been several questions regarding partial vaccination data. Below are some research studies that are helpful in determining the effectiveness of partial vaccinations. 

This technical paper summarizes research of partial vaccination. The takeaway is that partial vaccination likely offers some protection against infection, hospitalization and death. Protection is lower than among these completely vaccinated. An opportunity for more research is the robustness of immunity over time, as some of these studies have endpoints within days or weeks of vaccination. 

A Dutch study through May 2021 showing partial vaccination of index cases prevents transmission among households, but full vaccination is most protective:

New England Journal Study of Healthcare workers ending in May 2021 showing partial vaccination still conferred protection against infection:

For longer time horizons assessing vaccine effectiveness (months), the primary focus is often on fully vaccinated individuals. CDC's study, Vaccine Effectiveness in Frontline Workers, shows vaccine effectiveness for fully vaccinated persons is reduced in the Delta era. We can assume, based on the data above and biological plausibility, that partial vaccination effectiveness is also reduced in the Delta era. 

Vaccines Prevented up to 140,000 COVID-19 Deaths in the U.S

NIH studies

A study estimated that COVID-19 vaccinations prevented nearly 140,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. The findings highlight the vital role of COVID-19 vaccines in saving lives and controlling the pandemic. 


More Research Studies:

county updates

Ottawa County Data Hub

Ottawa County publishes recent COVID-19 data relating to community transmission, counts, descriptive statistics and test positivity. The data hub is updated every weekday from Monday - Friday by 3:00 pm. View Data Hub

Ottawa County Case Rates

As of October 1, 97 new cases of COVID-19 were reported each day on average over the last 7 days, compared to the average of 108 daily reported cases over the previous 7 day period.  Despite the early signs of plateauing, case counts and incidence rates remain high at this time. 


Variants in Ottawa County 

Since February 25, 2021, several variants of concern have been reported in Ottawa County. Of  all the confirmed variant cases reported in Ottawa County since late February, the majority (59%) were the Alpha variant, followed by the Delta variant (37%). The Epsilon and Gamma variants each made up 2% (percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding). Despite these overall statistics, local data on variants show the Delta variant to be the most predominant variant strain in Ottawa County, making up 100% of all variant cases reported over the last month. Similar data at the state and national levels indicate the Delta variant is still the most predominant strain at this time. 

Please note that whole genome sequencing (WGS) for the SARS-CoV-2 is not widely available like diagnostic tests, therefore only a subset of specimens from COVID-19 cases are further sequenced for variants. Due to the high prevalence of the Delta variant in Michigan, almost every incident infection can now be considered to be a Delta variant infection. 

In addition to WGS of clinical cases, results from wastewater sampling over the last month consistently detected the Delta variant in wastewater samples collected from several sites in the county. The Delta variant was detected most frequently further confirming the prevalence of the more transmissible and potentially severe variant in Ottawa County. 

Anyone who is eligible should get vaccinated. Non-pharmaceutical intervention strategies such as distancing, hand-washing, ventilation, and proper and consistent masking are still effective in preventing disease transmission.

COVID-19 Vaccinations in Ottawa County

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Coverage: 64.3% of all Ottawa County residents aged 12 years or older have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as of September 28, 2021. More vaccine data from MDHHS can be found here

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Coverage: 62.2% of all Michigan residents aged 12 years or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of September 28, 2021. More Vaccine Data from MDHHS can be found here.

Progress is based on the CDC data tracker, which includes MI residents vaccinated by providers not currently reporting to the state dashboard below: Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Bureau of Prisons, and most out-of-state providers. Data provided in the Michigan COVID-19 Dashboard below slightly undercounts the true number of doses administered to MI residents. LEARN MORE

COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States


Questions from Community Members

Is natural immunity from infections important?

Natural immunity typically comes when a person survives an infectious disease. Having a weakened immune system or being of an older age can reduce the level of personal immunity obtained from infection. Herd immunity occurs when a high proportion of the community has immunity to an infectious disease, effectively slowing or stopping further transmission. Herd immunity can be achieved in two ways – by infection or by vaccination. Infection involves getting infected with COVID-19 and risking a severe outcome, including death, and possibly passing the virus to others. This method does not guarantee protection from getting COVID-19 again. While infection can provide immunity that helps slow community COVID-19 transmission, the lives of over 700,000 people have been lost thus far in the United States to obtain immunity from infection. Vaccination is safe and effective, and the ideal method for pursuing herd immunity.



Mayo Clinic: Herd Immunity

CDC: Vaccine Offers Higher Protection

What are the chances of my child experiencing side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine?

Serious adverse effects are rare. However, you may experience mild side effects which are normal signs that your body is building protection. The side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects. 


side effects

There have been reports of teens getting myocarditis after the vaccine. What is this and how often does it occur?

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle and it is a rare heart condition that has been diagnosed in some people after receiving vaccines. Adolescents and young males are at the highest risk; among them there have been about 60 cases per 1 million vaccinated. It is usually treated with anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen and others. Most cases are mild, and at the time the study was published, no deaths had been associated with this rare side effect. The VAERS system is continually monitoring cases. On June 23, 2021, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices deemed the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines (preventing infection, illness and death from COVID-19) outweigh the risks.


Pregnancy & Fertility Questions

Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes. Based on data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy, CDC is now recommending COVID-19 vaccination for all people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant now or in the future. Data show that pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill if infected with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people, and the highly contagious Delta variant makes it even more important for eligible people to get vaccinated.

The CDC's recommendation, announced on August 11, is based on further evidence about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and a new analysis of current data from the CDC's v-safe pregnancy registry. In addition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other leading maternal health and public health organizations are "strongly urging" all pregnant individuals, and anyone planning to become pregnant, be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

On September 29, the CDC recommended urgent action to increase COVID-19 vaccination among people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are breastfeeding), who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. CDC strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks. As of September 27, 2021, more than 125,000 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in pregnant people, including more than 22,000 hospitalized cases and 161 deaths. The highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in pregnant people (22) in a single month of the pandemic was reported in August 2021.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine increase risk of miscarriage?

No. There is no evidence to show that getting a vaccine increases the risk of miscarriage. 

There has been extensive safety monitoring of the COVID-19 vaccines, including analysis of vaccination during pregnancy. Specifically, studies show that the rate of miscarriage in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy in the general population is about 11-16%, and an analysis of safety monitoring data of people who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine showed a similar rate of 13%. In other words, being vaccinated with one of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines does not increase miscarriage risk; rather, it protects against the higher risk of serious illness if you are pregnant and become infected with the virus. 

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility or fertility issues?

No. There is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines. 

Will getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy or while breastfeeding protect my baby from COVID-19? 

Antibodies made after a pregnant person received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine have been found in umbilical cord blood, which means that COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy might help protect babies against COVID-19. Additionally, recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breast milk, which could help protect their babies. In both of these cases, more data are needed to determine the level of protection these antibodies may provide to the baby and how long that protection would last. 


Where to Find COVID-19 Vaccines

VWM Logo

The OCDPH is listing all of its COVID-19 vaccination clinics on the VaccinateWestMi.com/clinics website. Click on the calendar to find scheduling and walk-in opportunities in Ottawa County and the surrounding area.

  • The Pfizer two-dose vaccine is available for individuals aged 12 years or older.
  • The Moderna two-dose vaccine is available for individuals aged 18 years or older.
  • The Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine is available for individuals aged 18 years or older.
  • Date of birth proof is required (driver’s license, state ID or birth certificate). Parental consent is required for minors. Find more details and requirements on each clinic's page.
  • Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens.

The Macatawa Area Express (MAX) and Allegan County Transportation are offering free rides for residents to vaccination appointments. To schedule a trip, call MAX at 616-355-1010. LEARN MORE - Kent County Vaccine Transportation Access Information HERE.

COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing

Need Testing? No-Cost Community Sites. Rapid antigen testing for anyone with or without symptoms (parental consent required for minors). Samples are taken by nasal swab. Results within 15-30 min. No appointment needed • No doctor’s order needed • No insurance needed • No Fee • Please bring a form of ID • No pets allowed • Wear a face covering. Find locations, dates and times at www.miOttawa.org/covid19

MDHHS Resources

Vaccine Information I MI Vaccine Locations I FAQs

NIH Header

Read the Latest NIH Research.

More COVID-19 Vaccine Information Resources

VaccinateWestMi.com FAQs I Deaf & Hard of Hearing FAQ Videos
CDC COVID-19 FAQs Flyer I CDC FAQ Website

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Click to learn more from the CDC's COVID-19 Webinars and Partner Calls Videos

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) sent this weekly update to those who signed up for vaccine notifications or COVID-19 updates. You may also sign up to receive information about other news topics from Ottawa County Parks, Sheriff’s Office and more. See the end of this email to make any changes to your subscription preferences.