Video above, rough transcript below.
From the Times-Standard: Have there been any extreme adverse reactions to vaccines in Humboldt County? If so, how many and associated with which vaccine? Please be specific about the exact number of cases and which vaccines they were associated with?
There have not been any that Public Health is aware of.
From the Times-Standard: Have there been any cases of blood clots related to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in Humboldt County?
From the Times-Standard: The CDC recommends patients be monitored for 15 minutes after vaccines are administered. That does not appear to be happening in some local pharmacies that offer vaccines. Can Dr. Hoffman comment on that?
Public Health has not been made aware of any of those concerns. So I’d definitely direct any of those questions to the clinic or pharmacy in question and take it from there.
From the Times-Standard: Has HSU had any discussions with Public Health about potentially requiring vaccinations for students who live in the dorms and students in athletic programs?
So i am aware of a national and statewide debate on this and their public health would definitely support fully vaccinating as many of the students coming back as possible but i really think overall that question should be directed to HSU administration
From the Times-Standard: With some schools having fewer than 60% of students vaccinated in kindergarten according to CDPH data, does Dr. Hoffman have any concerns about vaccine hesitancy and reaching herd immunity in Humboldt County?
Yes I think all of us have those concerns not just for Humboldt County, but for the state of California, for the country, for the world. This is really our tool to get out of this pandemic, but we recognize there are some people who have valid concerns about vaccination, about this vaccine. I think the most important thing is to hear people’s concerns listen and try to address them the best we can with information and knowledge that’s truthful and factual.
From the North Coast Journal: You and other officials have asked residents to bring a photo identification or a document, like a utility bill, with the person’s name on it when showing up to a vaccination appointment. Some feel that poses a barrier to vaccination, as houseless residents may not have an ID or such documentation and undocumented residents may be apprehensive about presenting such documentation for fear of its immigration consequences. Are there alternatives for people in this situation?
Yeah there’s a lot of different options and we definitely are trying to set the bar low. So this is not an official piece of documentation, it’s really something that can match the name on the appointment with the person who shows up. It could be a membership card to Costco or some other grocery store. Just anything with your name on it, that matches the name on the appointment. So there’s no official requirement. As far as homeless outreach, Open Door is working with us closely to do homeless outreach in the homeless community and those are our really individual efforts, not through the mass faction vaccination clinics. So those would have very different requirements in terms of their documentation status.
From the North Coast Journal: The federal government this morning decided to pause federal administration of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine after six people suffered blood clots potentially linked to the vaccine. Will Humboldt County follow suit and, if so, approximately how many vaccination appointments will that disrupt this week?
Yes we’re definitely following suit with both CDC and CDPH. The total number of appointments, not exactly sure county-wide because we don’t control all of those. I know for public health it is several hundred appointments.
From the North Coast Journal: Why did Humboldt County’s vaccine allocation increase so dramatically this week and do you expect allocations will continue at this level — or even increase further — in the coming weeks?
We have been expressing a need for more vaccine for months now in Humboldt County and the state was finally able to meet that need and give us doses to help us get to our goals. I am not confident that we will continue to get that level of vaccine, especially given what’s going on with Johnson & Johnson pause. With the administrative error in a plant that was manufacturing Johnson & Johnson and with a small decrease that’s coming to California over the next couple weeks. I really want to encourage everyone to take this opportunity to use these vaccines that are here. We have them now. We want to get them into arms as quickly as possible because we don’t know for sure that we’ll have this much in the future.
From KMUD News: Europe has delayed the roll out of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, meanwhile the United States is seeking to pause it’s administration due to a potential link to a rare blood clot disease. Will Humboldt County continue to use the J&J shot? Do you have any concerns?
We’re not going to continue it until it’s cleared by CDC and CDPH. The concerns are that we - yes we are concerned. That’s why we’re pausing it. The entities who oversee this ACIP the Western States Conference are going to look into this and when and if they clear it we feel confident that we will be able to give the vaccine again, just as we did after the Moderna pause. And now we’ve given millions and millions of doses after that without any problems.
From KMUD News: Are enough Humboldt County residents signing up for vaccines? Has the county sent extra doses to other neighboring counties?
The clinics are filling up. We definitely want to continue to encourage everyone to fill those up. We haven’t had any trouble yet. I think we wanted to get the word out quickly that we had this large amount and that we opened up MyTurn which did allow for people to directly book into the appointments which was a change from before. So I think that word is out now and the clinics are filling up and so far we have not directed any of our vaccine to any other counties.
From KMUD News: Our area seems to have a high ratio of vaccine skeptics. Are their concerns valid or are they putting our community further at risk?
Everyone’s concerns are valid. I mean we definitely don’t want to be dismissive of people who are critically thinking about the vaccines. We recognize these are new vaccines. People are certainly having reactions. There are things like what’s going on today. So yes. We want to hear everyone’s concerns, but we want to remind everyone that these are also safe and effective vaccines and even given what we’re dealing with right now, we always are measuring the potential rare side effects from a vaccine versus the much more common and often deadly consequences of getting the diseases we’re trying to prevent. So we want to continue to hear everyone’s concerns and we hope that we can be open to that and move the vaccine effort forward by listening and hopefully getting more and more of our population to get vaccinated.
From KMUD News: With a record number of vaccines being administered, is California’s ‘full reopening’ going to be safe for all residents, or are we still at risk of another ‘wave’?
It’s a great question. I hope that the more vaccine we can get out there, the more we’ll feel confident and reopening.
From the Redwood News: Humboldt County Public Health announced earlier this morning that it will follow CDC and FDA recommendations and pause the use of J&J vaccines. Can you explain why the County is doing this and what this means for the 650 doses of J&J the County was set to receive this week? How will this impact local vaccination clinics planned for this week or next? Should local residents who have gotten the J&J vaccine be concerned at all?
The reason we’re doing this is for safety. I cannot stress enough how important it is that we maintain a safety record for all of these vaccines that is to the highest standard. So that’s what we’re seeing right now. When and if this is cleared, we will feel confident moving forward and we will open up that vaccine just as we have in the past with pauses. I don’t think this is really going to have any effect on our vaccination effort. We have plenty of other doses in the county currently to make up for this. So we were luckily in a really good place given the large number of doses we got this week. So if this pause is short, it absolutely will have no effect. If it lasts for even a week, I think we’ll still be okay. If it’s lasting longer than that it could have some impact to the number of vaccines getting out into our community, but time will tell we need to wait and see what the ACIP and the Western State Conference says tomorrow.
From the Redwood News: Last week, Public Health was advertising there were hundreds of vaccine appointments available for this last weekend, but they seemed to have filled up relatively quickly. What’s the current supply and demand of Covid-19 vaccines locally? Is local demand for the vaccine meeting or exceeding the supply of vaccine the County is being allocated? Are all vaccine doses still being used each week by the County like in the past?
The demand has definitely outstripped the supply. We are finally to a place where we have a very large supply and I think that that also coincided with us starting on MyTurn and people getting used to that. So once we got the word out that those clinics filled up very quickly and we’re seeing the rest of the clinics that we open - up to 1300 doses in a day - are filling up rather quickly. So I think the demand is still very high and we hope that we can continue to meet that demand with this increased supply. We have always used up our vaccine within seven days and we plan to continue to do so as long as the demand is there.
From the Redwood News: With everyone 16 and older now eligible for a vaccine, can you quickly recap some of the most common side effects that people may experience after receiving a vaccination? For Pfizer and Moderna, are side effects more severe or common after the second dose versus first dose? What are some ways people can relieve common side effects?
Side effects are common with every vaccine. With these vaccines they are - all three are really the same. The most common would be some soreness in the arm. Maybe some redness or swelling around the side of the vaccination. Other people have experienced chills, body aches, headaches, fever. Again all things that are common with the immune response to the vaccine really telling us that it’s working. That your body is making an immune response. The things that people can do to alleviate symptoms are if anyone’s looking for more information you can always go to the CDC website. They have a great handout on how to alleviate these symptoms, but some of the things that we recommend locally are putting cold compress on the area if it’s hurting or swollen. Taking something like tylenol or ibuprofen if you need to for fever, headache, and body aches. And definitely if you’re having more severe symptoms or you have questions about your symptoms, calling your doctor to follow up or if you’re feeling really ill getting emergency services help.
From the North Coast News: Will the J&J pause have a significant effect on overall vaccine supply locally?
Hard to say. I think that we know that the J&J factory issue is going to affect nationwide supplies and the state of California have been talking about how that is going to contribute to a decrease in vaccine over the next couple of weeks. The pause probably won’t have a significant impact if it’s lifted in the next few days or week considering that locally we have plenty of vaccine on hand to make up for that.
From the North Coast News: What advice do you have for people who may have just gotten the J&J vaccine? What should people be aware of with their symptoms, and for how long (two weeks?)
I would encourage everyone who’s getting or who’s already gotten the vaccine to sign up for the CDC app called V-Safe. It’s a place that you can put in your information about any side effects you’re having, even if they’re mild. Even if it’s fever or chills or aches, it can also help the CDC track these much more rare conditions. Anyone who’s gotten it, it’s still a safe vaccine; these are extremely rare events; six people out of nearly seven million is extraordinarily rare. So I don’t think anyone should be worried. If you’re having severe symptoms you should definitely seek medical attention and two to three weeks seems to be about the time frame that this particular condition might develop in someone if they were to have it.
From the North Coast News: Do you think the announcement of this pause will increase or decrease hesitancy?
I can’t make any predictions. I hope it would not sway anyone from getting the vaccine. Any of the vaccines we know that there are rare complications with vaccines for all of them. So if this is cleared for safety, I would encourage everyone to continue to get it. Our state health officers got the J&J and they definitely stated today that they feel great and they would do it again and they’re not worried or concerned at all.
From the North Coast News: Do we have enough Moderna and Pfizer supply to vaccine all Americans who want to by May 31?
That’s what we’re hearing from the federal government and I hope that’s true, but I definitely would encourage a reporter to go seek out federal sources for that information.
From the North Coast News: What is the county doing to reschedule J&J appointments?
Anyone who had a J&J appointment cancelled should go to MyTurn and you should be able to reschedule that for a different kind of vaccine.
From the North Coast News: Are you at all concerned about the safety and effectiveness of the J&J vaccine moving forward?
Leaving it up to the experts at ACIP and the Western States Conference and I feel confident if they can clear this on safety that we will confidently go forward in using J&J here in Humboldt County.
From the Redheaded Blackbelt: Are you aware of any local programs for providing testing to people in congregate groups? Have any local schools implemented a regular testing strategy among students in order to monitor the level of COVID-19 on campus? Would this type of testing among a group of community members be useful in keeping an eye on potential community transmission?
Yeah many of the schools and youth sports groups have implemented testing programs to monitor for COVID-19 and they’ve done that in conjunction with both the state and local health resources. Yeah this type of testing is definitely useful and would encourage it for anyone who has a business or a group that wants to come together. A lot of the new guidelines from CDPH around reopening are allowing for increased capacity if you’re doing either proof of vaccination or testing so I think that clearly going forward that more testing is going to help us feel confident and more reopening as we are in this in-between period where we have a portion of our population vaccinated but it’s not yet enough to feel confident that we’re safe, that we can all go out and and co-mingle in society, that we need to still keep some of those checks and balances and one of the most important ones would be testing.
From the Redheaded Blackbelt: Have any relatively new variants of concern been identified in Humboldt recently?
No new ones, we have had several of the West Coast variants but no other variants of concern have been found in Humboldt County.
From the Redheaded Blackbelt: If a person has been vaccinated, would they test positive for COVID-19 antibodies because of having had a vaccine shot? Is this answer the same for all three Pfizer, Moderna and the J&J?
So all of the vaccines are creating an antibody to the spike protein or the S protein, so any antibody test that’s testing for the S protein would show positive, whether you had infection or if you had the vaccine. There’s a different antibody test called the N or the nucleocapsid protein antibody that would only be specific to infection because the vaccines do not produce that antibody.
From the Redheaded Blackbelt: Is a natural exposure to COVID-19 as likely to prevent repeated infection from it, as a vaccine dose would be? In the same way that chicken-pox parties purposely expose people to chicken-pox, would inadvertent or purposeful exposure to COVID-19 have the same effect? What do you think about concerns expressed by people hesitant to take the vaccine, who say they would prefer to achieve “natural immunity”?
So the evidence today definitely strongly supports that the vaccine is strong, is a better immune response than natural immunity. We have seen waning of the natural immunity within 90 days and that does not appear to be the case and so some of the thought of that is that the S protein or the the type of antibody that is being produced from the vaccine is more specific and stronger to the COVID-19 virus.
From the Redheaded Blackbelt: Also, what are the local changes now that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been temporarily suspended?
I don’t think it’s going to change anything locally.
From Reporter Daniel Mintz: At your last supervisors update you said there’s been a one-per-day stream of COVID hospitalizations but in the last few weeks the dashboard hasn’t shown that and there’s been only one new one on there in the last week. Is there an explanation for this?
The hospitalization rate has been going down. It hasn’t been going down quite as fast as I think would be reflected in the case rate and we continue to have ICU admissions that would not be reflective of the current case rate, so that’s concerning, but over the last week and a half or so it has improved dramatically so hopefully we have turned a corner on that and we’ll continue to monitor that as we always have with hospitalizations and ICU admissions.
From Reporter Daniel Mintz: There’s been some contradictory messaging lately, not long ago we were warned of another big surge and now the expectation is a much more open summer. There were 10 new cases confirmed on Friday and 35 more since. Considering the continued rise in cases and the apparent uncertainty, is it still too early to be making predictions about what will happen next?
It’s always hard to make predictions in this pandemic. I think i would point to Michigan right now, and we hope that would never happen here in California, but it is a cautionary tale and I think we all need to watch that, and that’s the reason that we’ve been very cautiously reopening California and in that cautiously reopening Humboldt County. This is a race between the vaccine effort, the variants of concern, specifically the UK variant which we have not had here in Humboldt yet, although it is in California and our reopening effort which we want to try to keep all those match so that we can get to that place where we have enough vaccine out there, that we feel more confident doing more opening and so that’s what we’re working towards and if it looks like things are going in the wrong direction we would certainly have to consider closing things back down again. I think that is something that only time would tell but hopefully will not happen if we continue to follow the current guidelines of masking, distancing, avoiding gatherings and following the rules that are being put out there to try to allow us to get some normalcy without going fully back to normal until we have a lot more vaccination.