By Lyndsie Kiebert
Federal health authorities updated COVID-19 safety guidelines on April 27, announcing that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear face coverings outdoors, unless in a crowded area.
Updated guidance, gradually rolling out over the past few months as the vaccine became more widely available, also states that vaccinated people are safe to dine at outdoor restaurants with both vaccinated and unvaccinated people from multiple households while unmasked.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that unvaccinated people remain masked in most situations, and masks are also still recommended for vaccinated people in indoor public settings. However, vaccinated people can gather in small groups indoors without masks or social distancing.
According to States Newsroom reporting, the new guidance stems from studies that showed fewer than 10% of COVID-19 transmission was happening outdoors.
The Panhandle Health District, which oversees the five northern counties of Idaho, announced April 28 that it would begin offering “mobile vaccine teams that come to your business or organization to vaccinate employees and their families.”
“We offer mobile vaccine teams throughout flu season for businesses and organizations, so our team is experienced in providing this sort of service,” said PHD Health Services Administrator Don Duffy. “If there is a way that we can remove any barriers for those who want the vaccine, we want to do that for our community.”
In order to qualify for a mobile vaccine team visit, PHD officials said, a minimum of 20 people must sign up at your locations. The mobile teams will administer mostly Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccines.
A temporary pause on the J&J vaccine was lifted by federal officials April 23 after a “thorough safety review” prompted by rare blood clotting occurring in six recipents of the vaccine. Authorities determined that “the available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older.”
At the time of the recommended pause, nearly 7 million doses of the J&J shot had been administered.
Those interested in scheduling a mobile vaccine clinic with PHD should call 208-415-5226.
As of April 28, state officials reported that 597,428 Idahoans had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while Panhandle Health District reported that 13,708 Bonner County residents had received at least one shot. According to Idaho’s coronavirus reporting website (coronavirus.idaho.gov), that translates to 42.6% of people 16 and older partially vaccinated against the virus, and 33.6% fully vaccinated. Idaho has set a goal to vaccinate 80% of residents by September.
Nationally, 53% of people have received at least one dose, while 36.2% are fully vaccinated.
A person is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after completing their dose series, or two weeks after receiving a dose of a single-shot vaccine.
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