Weekly Ottawa County COVID-19 Update - December 22, 2021

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December 22, 2021

Resources Available Online  |  miOttawa.org/COVID19

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Update on the Omicron variant

On Monday, December 20, the CDC announced that Omicron has overtaken Delta as the dominant variant in the United States. The variant has now been detected in most states. As noted in the progression chart below, it only took 17 days after Omicron was first detected in the U.S. for it make up an estimated 73% of U.S. COVID-19 infections. 

Information is still being collected on the contagiousness and severity of disease caused by the variant, as well as how the vaccines will protect against hospitalization and death. It is expected that Omicron spreads more easily than the Delta variant, even among vaccinated people and those with immunity from prior infection, and causes a range of illness severity.

All COVID-19 tests still appear to be effective at detecting infection from Omicron, and testing before gatherings and at the first sign of symptoms will be very helpful in limiting the transmission of the variant. While it is expected that breakthrough infections will increase among vaccinated people and people with prior COVID-19 infection, vaccination and booster doses still appear to be very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death. Vaccination also reduces the opportunity for a new variant to develop.

Please consider whether vaccination is right for you, and if you're already vaccinated, get boosted to increase your body's antibody response. In addition, all of the prevention strategies we've previously used will provide layered protection against the variant - wear a mask in indoor public spaces, stay home if you're sick, ventilate indoor spaces and get tested if you have symptoms of any kind or think you've been exposed to someone who is infected with COVID-19.

You can find vaccine clinics and appointments by visiting vaccinatewestmi.com.

Omicron variant surveillance data on CDC’s COVID Data Tracker

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Updated CDC recommendations on the use of the J&J vaccine

On December 16, the CDC endorsed updated recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the prevention of COVID-19, expressing a clinical preference for individuals to receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine over Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine. 

The reason for the update is that a new analysis showed that the risk of a rare blood clotting condition, called Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), after the J&J vaccine is still very low, but greater than previously thought. In light of the new information, the CDC did a risk-benefit analysis showing that the mRNA vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna are safer and more effective than the J&J vaccine. This is evidence of the vaccine safety and monitoring process working as intended.

More than 16.9 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the United States, with nine deaths directly attributed to TTS following J&J vaccination. 

CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky commented on the updated recommendations:

"We have made important strides in the year since the COVID-19 vaccination program started," said CDC Director, Dr, Rochelle Walensky. "More than 200 million Americans have completed their primary vaccine series, providing protection against COVID-19, preventing millions of cases and hospitalizations, and saving over a million lives. Today's updated recommendation emphasizes CDC's commitment to provide real-time scientific information to the American public. I continue to encourage all Americans to get vaccinated and boosted." 

Given the current state of the pandemic both here and around the world, the ACIP reaffirmed that receiving any vaccine is better than being unvaccinated. Individuals who are unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine will continue to have access to the J&J vaccine. 

If you've already received one dose of J&J vaccine, it is preferred that you receive a single mRNA booster dose (Pfizer or Moderna) at least two months after receiving the J&J vaccine.

Those who have received the J&J vaccine and have not experienced any symptoms of TTS (listed here) within 42 days are not at risk of TTS, and do have protection against severe cases of COVID-19. While an mRNA booster is preferred, those who received a J&J vaccine may receive a J&J booster. However, to date, not enough people have received a booster dose of the J&J vaccine to determine the risk of TTS after receiving the booster. 

Read the CDC's full statement here.

Update on vaccine availability for children ages 5 and younger

You may have heard last week that clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five and younger, which was anticipated to receive FDA authorization at the beginning of 2022, have been extended. When determining the best dose for a new vaccine, a balance needs to be struck between safety and how well the vaccine works. While the vaccine safety data looks good, Pfizer announced that the dose of the vaccine studied is not as effective as they hoped, especially for two to five year olds. This could be related to the lower dosage tested in this age group, as well as the presence of newer and more contagious variants of the virus, like Delta.

Pfizer is expanding the trial to include a third dose, very similar to the boosters currently being administered to already vaccinated people. Children under five will receive a third dose at least two months after their second dose to evaluate for improved immune responses in this trial. Pfizer is also expanding testing for other age groups to include a third dose. This is not unique to the COVID vaccine; many other routinely administered vaccines, such as hepatitis B, pneumonia, polio, tetanus, whooping cough, and others are three-(or more)-dose regimens.

Since the clinical trial will now include a third dose, the submission of data to the FDA will be delayed. We were hopeful children under five would have access to the vaccine by early 2022, but it now looks as though it might be mid-2022 instead. We know many of you will be disappointed by this news. However, this is evidence that our vaccine approval system is working well to provide a thorough and careful review of the safest and most effective dosing for this age group.

As you continue to wait, remember that although young children can still become infected with COVID-19, their risk of serious illness is thought to be lower than that of adults. The best way to protect them is to be sure that they are surrounded by others who are vaccinated. In addition, remember to mask when you are in public indoors, stay away from others who may be sick, and get tested if you think you've been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.


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Local doctors provide COVID-19 prevention advice for schools

On December 15, ODCPH and the Kent County Health Department co-hosted a webinar for K-12 school officials in Kent and Ottawa counties. The webinar featured infectious disease specialists Dr. Andrew Jameson, from Mercy Health, and Dr. Rosey Olivero, from DeVos Children's Hospital. The recording can be viewed here. The panelists provided information on the status of the healthcare system and how school prevention strategies can help adults in our community during this time of continued high community transmission.

COVID-19 Prevention Webinar

OCDPH makes house calls to help those without access to vaccines

Getting to vaccination clinics is not easy for all Ottawa County residents. Some barriers such as lack of transportation, limited or no internet access, and language differences can make finding a clinic appointment or physically attending a clinic difficult or impossible. In addition, some residents have one or more family members who are dealing with health issues that make it difficult to attend a clinic. But OCDPH's vision is healthy people and that's where three of our healthcare workers come in.

In November, Stephanie Goris, Public Health Nurse and OCDPH's Long Term Care Liaison, began developing a list of facilities, and eventually, individuals, who needed help accessing vaccination. This lack of access left the individuals and those living with them at-risk for COVID-19.

Pam and Phyllis, a nurse and medical assistant team, have spent most of their days since November 11 traveling the county, visiting these residents to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Since then, they've provided the vaccine to nearly 600 people who are homebound, in long term or adult foster care settings, in hospice, or who are experiencing other barriers, like being wheelchair bound. Although many of these residents have some sort of home health care, those organizations do not provide vaccinations. One of those residents is Marion, age 91, who is a hospice patient. Marion's daughter noted that "it was a blessing to not have to worry about trying to get her out of the house" to get her booster. 

"The COVID-19 virus does not discriminate and there are people in our community without access to the protection provided by the vaccine, said Phyllis Potter, Health Education Investigator. "We've made a ton of friends over the past month - we've sat on floors, held new babies and played with family dogs! We are grateful that we could build relationships and let people know OCDPH is here to help."

The vaccination visits have provided opportunities to tell residents about the other services OCDPH and its partners can provide as well.

"As the long term care liaison, I am responsible for assisting facilities with residents and staff who test positive, helping monitor for outbreaks and connect facilities with the resources they may need," Stephanie noted. "Sometimes it can be really tough, but being able to connect them with vaccine has been one of the bright spots of my job. Phyllis and Pam have been the boots on the ground to make this a reality and numerous administrators, directors of nursing and home managers have communicated how much hope the vaccine has given back to these residents."

Questions & Answers

If we need a booster dose, does that mean that the vaccines aren't working?

No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection, especially among certain populations, such as people over the age of 65, against mild and moderate disease. In addition, the vaccines were developed for the initial variant of COVID-19 and we have just identified our fifth variant in Omicron. With the number of the Delta variant still high across the United States, and the addition of the new variant, the latest CDC recommendations on booster doses help ensure more people across the U.S. are better protected against COVID-19. 

What is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)? 

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. We do not yet know what causes MIS-C. However, we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19. MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care. If your child has recovered from COVID-19, even if they didn't have symptoms or had mild symptoms, and they exhibit symptoms of MIS-C, call your pediatrician or healthcare provider right away. 


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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 4:00 pm (a holiday update schedule is available on the hub with expected data delays on 12/23, 12/24, and 12/31). View Data Hub

Weekly COVID-19 Data Reports can be found on our COVID page

Ottawa County Case Rates

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As of December 20, 139 new cases of COVID-19 were reported each day on average over the last 7 days, down from the 205 daily reported cases over the previous 7-day period. Case counts and incidence rates remain high at this time. Because these reports do not include results in people tested with antigen test kits at home, true case counts may be underreported.

COVID-19 Vaccinations in Ottawa County


Coverage: 64.7% of all Ottawa County residents aged 5 years or older have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as of December 20, 2021. More vaccine data from MDHHS can be found here

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Michigan Vaccination Rates

Michigan cases

Coverage: 62.4% of all Michigan residents aged 5 years or older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of December 20, 2021. More vaccine data from MDHHS can be found here.

Progress is based on the CDC data tracker, which includes Michigan 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 slightly undercounts the true number of doses administered to Michigan residents.

COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States

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Where to Find COVID-19 Vaccines

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The OCDPH is listing all of its COVID-19 vaccination clinics on VaccinateWestMi.com. 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 5 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.
  • Proof of date of birth 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.
Vaccine Clinic Calendar

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

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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.