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Posted on: January 7, 2022

COVID-19 Work Session: Rising Cases, Vaccine Side Effects Addressed, Updated Guidelines

County COVID-19 Update (Banner (Landscape))

As the COVID-19 virus and new variant, Omicron, continue to spread nationwide, cases are quickly rising across the State and in Cochise County. Arizona continues to be in a public health state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and residents are encouraged to follow the recommended safety guidelines for maximum protection. 

Today’s COVID-19 Work-Session included a presentation from County Medical Director Dr. Erik McLaughlin. He provided an in-depth overview of information related to the COVID-19 virus and variants, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), and COVID-19 vaccine side effects. 

During the “True or False” portion of the presentation, Dr. McLaughlin addressed common concerns of adverse reactions related to the COVID-19 vaccines and provided reliable sources of information to help clarify misconceptions regarding the vaccines and their efficacy. 

“People are not dying from COVID-19 vaccines. People are dying from COVID. The vaccines are safe, well-tolerated, and helping keep people out of hospitals and alive,” stated County Medical Director Dr. Erik McLaughlin. 

Various charts shared in the presentation determine COVID-19 hospitalization and death rates as being higher among the unvaccinated population of Cochise County when compared to those who are fully vaccinated. You may view Dr. McLaughlin’s full report here

“I appreciate Dr. McLaughlin’s explanation regarding VAERS,” says Cochise County Health Director Alicia M. Thompson. “It’s important for everyone to know that entries into VAERS are not verified and anyone can enter a report into the system. This means you or I could go in and make a VAERS report,” Thompson added. “What was even more eye-opening was that even IF every single VAERS reported death was actually related to getting the vaccine, it would represent 2/1000’s of 1 percent of the 496 million vaccines administered. The bottom line is that the vaccine is saving lives. People are dying from COVID.”

COVID-19 Cases and Trends

Cochise County saw a spike in cases just two days after the Christmas holiday. Cochise Health and Social Services’ Lead Epidemiologist presented the latest data on cases and trends, including an overview of COVID-19 surges in hospitalizations and deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. 

COVID-19 case data as of January 5, 2022: 

  • 20,399 confirmed cases, including 1,121 new cases since Dec. 17. 
  • 1,153 hospitalizations, including 64 new hospitalizations since Dec. 17.
  • 476 confirmed deaths, including 43 new deaths confirmed since Dec. 17.
  • 1,430 school-related cases since the start of the Fall semester (Aug. 8, 2021), including 100 new cases since Dec. 17. 
  • 15 school-related cases since the start of the Spring semester (Jan. 3, 2022).

New Isolation and Quarantine Guidance

Effective December 27, 2021, the CDC updated its recommendations for isolation and quarantine periods for the general population: 

New COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance

  • Pfizer booster vaccine:
    1. Now approved 5 months after completing the primary vaccine series. 
    2. Now approved for adolescents ages 12 to 17. 
  • Moderna booster vaccine continues to be 6 months after completing the primary vaccine series. 
  • For immunocompromised 5 to 11-year-old children, a 3rd dose (28 days after 2nd dose of Pfizer) is recommended for the primary series.
  • ACIP Guidelines are recommending the use of Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines over J&J due to increased effectiveness. 
  • Learn more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html

Cochise Health and Social Services continue to urge community members to follow the recommended safety mitigations, to maximize protection within our community:

  • Wear a high-quality mask, practice physical distancing, wash your hands often and avoid indoor crowded spaces.
  • Get vaccinated and boosted. With each new variant, our bodies and science must keep up with the changes. Getting the vaccine gives us the best chance of staying well protected and out of the hospital.
  • If you are feeling sick or are dealing with chronic conditions, contact your primary care provider or local urgent care to determine appropriate care.
  • Stay home if you are sick or are experiencing symptoms, to avoid exposing others.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, immediately contact your PCP to discuss available treatments and eligibility.
  • If you are experiencing a true medical emergency, seek immediate care. 

View the full meeting presentation and full video recording of the COVID-19 Work-Session, by visiting the Agendas & Minutes site.

For assistance regarding COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and safety recommendations, contact the Cochise Health and Social Services department via email at Vaccine@cochise.az.gov and Publichealth@cochise.az.gov or by calling 520-432-9400, Monday-Friday 8 am to 5 pm. 

Stay informed on the latest COVID-19 updates by following Cochise Health and Social Services at www.facebook.com/CochisePublicHealth

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