In these updates, we will include news and updates, summarize publicly-available COVID-19 and vaccination data, and provide some context and details to help you understand what’s happening with COVID-19 in our community.
Each update will cover data for the week ending the previous Saturday. You can find the weekly data report, plus additional data, on our data page at www.whatcomcounty.us/coviddata. To watch video updates, available in both English and Spanish, visit our Facebook page or YouTube channel.
Booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine are now available for anyone older than 16. Following recommendations from the FDA, CDC and Western States Scientific Review workgroup, DOH has expanded booster dose eligibility in Washington to 16 and 17 year-olds.
Right now, only Pfizer is available for 16-17 year olds. DOH recommends every 16 and 17 year old get a Pfizer booster if:
- It’s been at least 6 months since their second Pfizer or Moderna shot.
- It’s been at least 2 months since their first and only Johnson & Johnson shot.
It’s OK if your booster is a different brand than your original series. You can learn more about booster doses and booster eligibility at WhatcomCounty.US/CovidVaccine
If you’re eligible for a booster, we really encourage you to get one. It’s the best way to resist infection from all variants of COVID-19 and prevent severe illness if you do get infected.
Omicron variant. Three cases have been detected in Washington state, in King, Pierce, and Thurston counties. Because this variant was so recently identified, there are still many unknowns about how transmissible this variant is, whether it causes more severe disease, and how much protection is provided by previous infections or vaccines. For info on what’s known so far, please visit the CDC page on Omicron.
360-778-6190 isn’t spam, it’s our contact tracing team. Sometimes the phone number our contact tracers use to contact people who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 gets marked as “spam/scam likely.” If we need to reach you, the number we’ll use to call you is ☎360-778-6190. If you’ve missed a call from this number, call us back right away!
Unfortunately, some scammers do pretend to be public health officials. When we call, we do not ask for personal identifying information like your Social Security Number or bank account number. If anyone asks you for this information, don’t give it to them. Learn more about how to identify and avoid legitimate spam/scam callers posing as health department officials: https://bit.ly/3lC9eTB
COVID-19 data highlights (week of 11/28 - 12/4)
This update focuses on COVID-19 data through the previous Saturday. We have to wait for complete data from a variety of sources, so our data reports will always cover the previous week. You can find the weekly data report, plus additional data, on our data page.
Cases. This reporting week, COVID cases rebounded to the same level seen before the November floods. It’s too soon to know how the impact of recent events (such as holiday gatherings) will affect cases going forward. Whatcom County saw an unusually low number of tests between November 14 and 27, and it’s possible that we are now seeing a more accurate description of recent virus activity.
- 476 new cases were reported in the week. The 7-day average count for confirmed and probable cases was 68 per day.
- The 14-day case rate was 347 per 100,000 people, or 790 total cases over 14 days.
- Among the sub-county areas, the range of 7-day case rates ranges from 113 per 100,000 in the Bellingham area to 288 per 100,000 in the Lynden area.
- Cases in school-age children made up 22% of the total cases for the current reporting week. The 7-day case rates for the 5-17 and 25-44 age groups both rose during the most recent reporting week. In addition, the case rate among 0- to 4-year-olds rose significantly and is currently above the county average, with cases spread through multiple sub-county areas.
- The 7-day weekly case rate among unvaccinated residents in Whatcom County is about three to four times greater than the equivalent rate among fully vaccinated residents.
Hospitalizations. New hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain high among Whatcom County residents, with a total of 36. More unvaccinated residents (27 out of 36, or 75%) continue to need hospitalization for COVID-19 symptoms than vaccinated residents.
According to the December 8 DOH report on COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths by Vaccination Status, hospitalization rates are many times higher among unvaccinated residents. For Washington residents 12 – 64 years old, the hospitalization rate per 100,000 is 16 to 17 times higher for unvaccinated residents. For those 65 years and older, the hospitalization rate was ten times higher among unvaccinated residents.
Deaths. During this reporting period, there were three deaths due to COVID-19:
- Two unvaccinated females, 70-79 years
- One unvaccinated male, 70-79 years
According to the November 17 DOH report mentioned above, unvaccinated individuals 65 and older are 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals 65 and older.
Vaccination Progress and Clinics
Data. As of Dec. 6, 68.4% of all Whatcom County residents have started vaccination and 63.1% have finished. As of Dec. 4, about 23% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received at least one dose, and 38,720 booster doses have been administered to Whatcom residents.
Priority clinics. There are some pop-up vaccine clinics we operate that aren’t broadly advertised to the general public. These clinics are intended to improve vaccine access to underserved communities in our county.
These communities often have difficulty accessing appointments because of a number of factors, such as lack of access to high-speed internet or inadequate health care coverage. People in these communities may not have reliable transportation and can’t easily travel to one of the larger towns in Whatcom County to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Doing direct outreach to and locating clinics in these communities is part of our strategy to increase equitable vaccine access, since not everyone in our county has a fair chance to get a COVID-19 vaccination appointment.
As we’ve seen earlier in the pandemic, online registration disproportionately favors higher income English-speakers with fast internet connections, who often live in more populous areas and have other vaccination opportunities available near them at clinics or pharmacies.
Sometimes we aren’t able to reach enough families through direct outreach to fill all the appointment slots available for these clinics. When this happens, we will open these clinics to the public and post a registration link on our vaccine page. We also share local clinics operated by other providers that are open to the public on this page.
Thank you for your patience, and thank you for working with us as we continue to improve equitable access in our county to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines.
Pop-ups. Adolescents, teens and adults can get vaccinated for COVID-19 at most places you’d go for a flu vaccine, like grocery stores, pharmacies and health care clinics. In addition to these, there’s a number of pop-up clinics offering COVID-19 vaccines to anyone who’s 12 or older.
Due to heightened demand, walk-ups can’t be accepted at any of the clinics on the list this week. You must have an appointment to get vaccinated at these pop-ups. Some locations in the county do currently accept walk-ins. A more complete list of vaccine providers in Whatcom County can be found at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.
East Whatcom Regional Resource Center, 8251 Kendall Rd, Maple Falls
- Thursday, Dec. 16, 3-7pm
- Ages 5-11: Appointments required, walk-ins will not be accepted for this age group. A registration link will be posted on the COVID vaccine page at 9am on Dec. 15.
- Ages 12+: Appointments are required, walk-ins won't be accepted. Make an appointment here: https://bit.ly/3oKo6kZ or call 360-778-6075.
Old Lynden Middle School cafeteria, 516 Main St, Lynden
- Friday, Dec. 17, 4-7pm
- Ages 5-11: Appointment required, walk-ins won’t be accepted. A registration link will be posted on the COVID vaccine page at 9am on Dec. 16.
- Ages 12+: Appointments are required, walk-ins won't be accepted. Make an appointment here: https://bit.ly/3dMGNxX or call 360-778-6075.
- Saturday, Dec. 18, 3-7pm (ages 5-11 only)
Everson Elementary, 216 Everson Goshen Rd, Everson
- Saturday, Dec. 18, 9am-1pm
- Ages 5+. All ages need an appointment, walk-ups won’t be accepted. A registration link will be posted on the COVID vaccine page at 9am on Dec. 17.
Pediatric vaccination opportunities. In addition to many of the clinics listed above, we maintain an up-to-date list of local pediatric vaccine providers on our vaccine page. You can also find vaccine providers that serve 5-11 year-olds at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov. We’ll announce other vaccine opportunities for this age group as those opportunities become available.
This week’s Facebook posts
The Health Department posts regularly on Facebook. Here’s a list of this week’s posts.