Across the U.S., health officials are reporting a rise in COVID-19 vaccination rates as the delta variant, a particularly transmissible strain of the coronavirus, is causing a surge in cases and hospitalizations.
The New York Times reported last week that many states with lower vaccine rates are seeing some of the largest upticks in vaccinations. What about in Idaho, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks as the state with the fourth-lowest percentage of vaccinated individuals?
Data from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare indicate that Idaho is also seeing an increase in vaccine uptake. After weeks of waning numbers of first vaccine doses, that metric — which shows the number of people receiving their initial shot of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines — appears to be slowly climbing.
“Over the past two weeks in particular, we’ve seen the number of first doses start to rise. That’s good news,” said Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen at a news conference Tuesday.
Jeppesen said the state just passed the milestone of 50% of Idahoans 12 and older being vaccinated.
In mid-June, the number of first doses administered to Idahoans consistently fell below 1,000 per day for the first time since vaccines arrived in Idaho. At the state’s peak in March and April, as many as 10,000 first doses were administered each day. That metric remained consistently below 1,000 first doses each day until late July. Since then, the number of first doses administered daily has hovered at or just above 1,000.
On Tuesday, the Idaho Capital Sun reported that the seven-day moving average of first doses has risen from a low of 580 per day on July 6 to 1,523 by Aug. 1.
“It’s really hard to say with accuracy what exactly is pushing that (increase), because we have a lot of communication efforts and education efforts going,” said Sarah Leeds, manager of the Idaho Immunization Program. “Physicians are certainly reaching out to their patient population and providing education. ... My guess is that the delta variant is one piece of it.”
Deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner said during the news conference that vaccine numbers are increasing among adolescents and teens.
“That may be due to the fact that they’re going in for their checkups before school starts and they’re getting their routine immunizations,” Turner said.