By Lyndsie Kiebert
Idaho’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is now full speed ahead, as Gov. Brad Little announced March 24 that starting Monday, April 5, all residents over the age of 16 will be able to schedule vaccine appointments.
Up until this point, elderly Idahoans and those with essential, in-person professions have been prioritized. As of March 24, 396,304 Idahoans had been vaccinated, with 247,125 of those considered fully inoculated, either with a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or with two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. In Bonner County, those numbers are 10,848 and 6,607, respectively.
Little took the opportunity to thank those Idahoans with his March 24 media release about the vaccine.
“You have taken one of the most important steps during our pandemic fight to protect lives and get us closer to normal,” he said of those who have chosen to acquire doses. “Hundreds of thousands of Idahoans have received the vaccine because it is safe and it works. If you are still unsure about the vaccine, I encourage you to talk to your doctor or health care provider. There are good reasons most of them did not hesitate to receive their COVID vaccine weeks ago — the COVID vaccine has been tested and it is proving to be safe and effective.”
Those who want to sign up for a vaccine can either directly contact local providers (see sidebar) or visit covidvaccine.idaho.gov to sign up for a pre-registration list. Once an appointment becomes available in your area, a provider will contact you directly.
The governor’s office reports that “more than 63% of Idaho’s 65-and-older population have been vaccinated and almost 30% of individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 have been vaccinated.”
“Folks, with each passing week as more and more Idahoans choose to get vaccinated, we get closer to returning to normal,” Little said. “The COVID vaccine really is our best shot at protecting jobs and saving lives. Please choose to receive the safe and effective vaccine.”
The availability of the vaccine, particularly for Idaho teachers, prompted the Lake Pend Oreille School District Board of Trustees to vote March 23 to rescind its face covering requirement, instead making masks “optional” in schools starting April 12 — after Spring Break. LPOSD Superintendent Tom Albertson confirmed to the Reader after the meeting that the motion pertains to students, staff and school visitors, including sporting event spectators.
Albertson said that all the board’s decisions have been based on COVID-19 data within the school district, as well as throughout Bonner County.
“Both of these metrics have been trending downward,” he said.
LPOSD schools will continue to operate on their modified, shortened-day “yellow” schedules, and will continue to suggest self-isolation if a staff member or student is within six feet of someone who tests positive for at least 15 minutes. However, if all parties are wearing masks, no quarantine time is necessary, according to district policy.
Those in North Idaho with questions about COVID-19 or who need assistance securing a vaccine can call the PHD hotline at 877-415-5225.
Local enrolled vaccine providers
Panhandle Health District — off-site clinic
Bonner General Health
Kaniksu Health Services
Sandpoint Family Health Center
Sandpoint Super Drug
White Cross Pharmacy — Spirit Lake
White Cross Pharmacy — Priest River
Medicine Man Pharmacy — Sandpoint
Safeway Pharmacy — Sandpoint
Panhandle Health District —off-site clinic
Boundary Community Hospital
Kaniksu Health Services
Safeway Pharmacy — Bonners Ferry
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