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COVID tracker: For most of us, vaccines aren’t coming for months

  • NH DHHS—Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 1/12/2021 11:18:10 AM

There’s a very good chance that you, loyal reader, won’t get vaccinated against COVID-19 for a couple of months, or maybe longer. My advice is to take a deep breath and accept it.

We have reached the beginning of the end of this pandemic but there’s a long, difficult road still to travel and it won’t help to raise our stress levels unnecessarily. Don’t fixate too much on the schedules released at Sununu’s press briefings, or get antsy because your lamebrain brother-in-law is ahead of you in line for a shot, or badger your doctor’s office for details.

As I write this there is no good way to figure out when you will be eligible for a vaccine aside from waiting for the Monitor and others to tell you, or constantly refreshing the state’s COVID website.

We’re in the midst of Phase 1A of the rollout and vaccines have been given to somewhere around half of the roughly 110,000 eligible first responders, front-line health workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Next in line are people over 75; the medically vulnerable; people at facilities for the disabled; and officers and staff (but not inmates) at jails and prisons. You can see the whole  list, with more details at our  COVID-19 page.

That phase, which involves almost a quarter-million people, hasn’t started yet and estimates are that it will last through March. After that comes school staff and teachers and those ages 65 to 75, but who knows when that phase, which will include me, begins. My guess is I won’t have any chance at a vaccine until long after town meeting season, but my guess isn’t worth much since the supply depends upon so many variables out of our control.

It is very unlikely that vaccination levels will get us anywhere near herd immunity levels in New Hampshire before mid-summer, at the earliest.

The good news, and it is very good news indeed, is that both the vaccines which the U.S. has approved as well as a third one OK’d in Europe appear to be at least 90% effective after two doses, and immunity remains strong for at least eight months with all indications that it will last for years. The uncertain news is that we don’t have good data about whether vaccination prevents you from spreading the virus to others. And the bad news, of course, is that COVID-19 mutations are already appearing which make it more contagious, if not more dangerous.

As I said, we have a long, dark road ahead of us and we need to do everything we can to get through it – which includes, as you well know, wearing masks and social isolating and not gathering together in groups. The end isn’t near but at least we now know that there will be an end.

The COVID-19 situation in New Hampshire, like the rest of the country and much of the world, got worse in the past week. Here’s how the Monitor’s metrics have done:

Number of new cases – what’s the trend? Stable but still way too high.

The two-week trend of new cases reported each day has hovered between 700 and 800 since right before Christmas.

Number of hospitalizations – what’s the trend? Very high.

More than 300 people have been in the hospital with COVID-19 every day since the start of the year. New Hampshire hospitals still have enough ICU beds.

Number of deaths – what’s the trend? Going up again.

The state saw its highest one-day total of deaths last week and the tally is only accelerating. It took us 27 days to go from 500 deaths to 600 deaths but only 14 days to top 700 deaths, then just 11 days to get above 800 deaths. 

To put this in context, more state residents have died from COVID-19 in the past year than died from influenza in the past two decades.

PCR test positivity rate – what’s the trend? Too high and not going down.

The figure reflects both the prevalence of the disease and the scope of our testing. Any rate above 5% is considered bad and New Hampshire’s has been hovering around 6.3% since the start of the year.

 (David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

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