Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Boosters, Vaccination Key to COVID-19 Progress

County health policy advisor calls for more people to get new booster.

By - Oct 7th, 2022 10:24 am
Dr. Ben Weston receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Photo courtesy of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Ben Weston receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Photo courtesy of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Getting Milwaukee County’s population vaccinated against COVID-19 has been an uphill battle for awhile now, as the pace of vaccination has slowed to a crawl, but increased immunity at the population level is the key to current downward trends in disease says the county’s health policy leader.

Referencing a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Dr. Ben Weston, chief health policy advisor for the county, told Urban Milwaukee “more than 50% of adults have heard little to nothing about the new bivalent COVID booster.”

The new boosters were approved for use in late August by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They were formulated to produce immunity to both the original variant of COVID-19 and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the disease that pushed the disease burden up in Milwaukee and across the country for months beginning in last spring. “This is the first change in vaccine formulation since the pandemic started and a critical step toward a more regular cadence of vaccine-induced protection from COVID,” Weston said.

The percentage of booster-eligible residents that have received a booster is 58%, according to the latest countywide vaccination report. Among all county residents, only 61.3% are completely vaccinated.

There has been a gradual decrease in disease burden over the past month, and Milwaukee County was recently listed as having a low level of disease by the CDC based on reported case data and healthcare capacity in the area.

“Maintaining immunity in the face of ongoing COVID transmission is the key to keeping our disease burden low,” Weston said. “The safest and most effective way to do that is to get boosted.”

A weekly report tracking COVID-19 in the county indicates the downward trend in disease burden continues. The report is produced by local epidemiologists, public health officials and faculty from the Medical College of Wisconsin and UW-Milwaukee.

“When looking at graphs of cases in the entire county and among kids, we see a sustained slow decrease in cases over the past few weeks but evidence of a plateau in the most recent days,” said Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department, in an email releasing the latest report to colleagues.

Between Sept. 28 and Oct. 4, there were 602 new reported cases of COVID-19 among all county residents, up from 587 the week prior. Among children, there were 125 cases this past week, down from 142 the week prior.

There were 99 adults hospitalized due to COVID-19 this past week, down from 106 the previous week. Among children, hospitalizations went down from 12 to 8. There were zero deaths reported this past week.

The positivity rate increased week over week. This statistic is a measure of the percentage of tests that come back positive for COVID-19. It was 9.1% this past week, up from 8.2% the week prior.

The weekly report, the children’s report and the vaccination report are available on Urban Milwaukee.

More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here

Categories: Health, Weekly

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