This week on the Health Report, an update on vaccine clinics across the state, plus recent data suggests a COVID surge in the coming weeks
Health officials are continuing to remind Minnesotans that the best way to protect themselves and their community against covid 19 is to get the updated booster after receiving their primary doses of the vaccine. The latest vaccine, known as the bivalent booster, is available for people 5 years of age and older.
This new booster helps protect against the covid variants currently circulating, the BA.4 and BA.5 variants. According to a CDC estimate, this accounts for about 60 percent of reported COVID cases in the US during the last week of October. Laz Carreon is a registered nurse and COVID Project Manager for the Indian Health Board in Minneapolis. He says that the bivalent booster is going to offer you the best protection against covid variants circulating right now
“This is what’s going to be offering that extra heightened level of protection against what is currently circulating,” said Carreon. “We all need to do our part to make sure that we’re not continuing to spread this, and especially to our vulnerable, vulnerable population, our family, our friends, our loved ones, that’s we want to protect.”
Native community members can check with their local IHS clinic, the Native American Community Clinic, The Indian Health Board, the Division of Indian work, and the American Indian Community Housing Organization to find out how to schedule an appointment or visit a vaccination event. All Minnesotans can check with their regular healthcare provider, local pharmacy, or visit a state-run vaccination site.
The bivalent booster was also recently approved for children 5-12 years of age. The Minnesota Department of Health says parents should get their children boosted at least two months after they’ve completed their primary series of the COVID vaccine. MDH is also encouraging parents with children that have not completed their primary series to schedule their next dose so they can become eligible for the bivalent booster. The primary series is important to build up the base protection against the virus.
So far this month –Division of Indian Work is hosting a vaccine clinic at Humboldt High School in St Paul on November 11th from 5 to 8pm – and November 17th at Little Earth in Minneapolis from 4 to 7pm.
In related news…
Virus levels in the Twin Cities wastewater suggest a fall time surge is on the way. According to the University of Minnesota’s Genomics Center, who measures covid virus levels in wastewater, the amount increased by about 20 percent from October 17th to October 24th. They noted that much of the increase was due to a spike in levels on Monday, October 24. The Genomics Center says that virus levels in wastewater can serve as an early warning that the virus is spreading in the community. Dr. Kenneth Beckman, executive director of the Genomics Center explains:
“The benefit of having information waster water is that it serves as a canary in coal mine, in a fashion. It allows you to see an outbreak before people have shown up at a doctor’s office or the ER,” said Beckman.
As cold weather approaches ….our indoor close contact with others increases making it easier for viruses to circulate. MDH still recommends wearing a mask in indoor public places and testing when you have covid symptoms. They also say it’s a good idea to test before and attending large gatherings, and stay home if you feel sick.
In other news, national Native American Heritage Month began on November 1st and the St. Paul-based artist Marlena Myles’ artwork was featured on the google homepage as the Google “Doodle” – Marlena, who is a member of the Spirit Lake Dakota/Mohegan/Muscogee tribe, illustrated the google letters with images of The Creators’ game and shared some history and her inspiration with Google:
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