vaccine web only

An employee with the Berrien County Health Department prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Berrien County will soon reach 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered.

As of Thursday, vaccine providers in the county had administered 99,498 doses of vaccine, with 42,500 of those being second doses, according to state data.

That equates to 46.1 percent of Berrien County’s population (16 and older) that have received at least their first dose of vaccine, and 37 percent that are fully vaccinated. Last Thursday, the county was at 45.2 percent with at least one dose and 33.1 percent fully vaccinated.

The vaccination effort hasn’t let up yet in Berrien County.

Vaccine providers administered 7,602 doses since last Thursday. They had administered 7,539 doses last week and 8,073 doses the week before.

Gillian Conrad, spokesperson for the Berrien County Health Department, said Friday that there still is a demand for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after its pause.

She said when BCHD staff called people with appointments for a J&J clinic to offer them a different vaccine, a decent amount said they’d wait for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to return. Others wrote it off.

“It was a mixed bag, but there’s enough demand there to still offer it to the community,” Conrad said.

There are two Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinics set for Tuesday and Thursday next week at the health department and appointments are still available. Visit www.bchdmi.org/COVID19 or call 800-815-5485 to make an appointment.

This week the BCHD began allowing people to schedule their second dose appointments for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on its website.

Conrad said there is a small percentage of people who have not returned for their second dose.

“The reasons vary, but it ranges from something came up and they missed their appointment to they had symptoms after the first dose and didn’t want to go through that again,” she said.

Conrad said earlier on in the vaccination effort, it was very difficult to find an open slot if someone missed their second dose appointment; but now it’s very easy to get the second dose if the date chosen doesn’t work.

“We want you to come back. While you have a good percentage of protection from the first dose, you’re not getting to that full vaccination status,” she said. “It’s important you do that and we want to make it as convenient and easy to do as we possibly can.”

Conrad noted that Berrien County has had a couple of breakthrough COVID-19 infections of people who were vaccinated.

“It’s pretty rare, but no vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing infections,” she said. “What they do is significantly reduce the chance of severe illness, and death.”

The breakthrough cases were found through either routine testing or from someone deciding to get tested due to an exposure, according to Conrad. All of those cases in Berrien County have had very mild cases of COVID-19.

“When you have 94-95 percent effectiveness, you’re going to get some cases,” Conrad said. “National health officials are really trying to study this in real time and are trying to see if there are any connections or patterns. Nothing has emerged yet, but it’s definitely being looked at.”

Other vaccine updates

On Friday, Rite Aid announced that all of its pharmacies are now offering COVID-19 vaccines.

In addition, it can now accommodate walk-ins on a limited basis at every store, though scheduling appointments in advance is recommended to reduce wait time and guarantee availability.

To make an appointment visit, www.RiteAid.com/covid-19 or call your local store.

Spectrum Health Lakeland is offering the Pfizer vaccine Wednesday at Watervliet High School and Thursday and Friday at its Watervliet Hospital. To schedule an appointment, visit www.spectrumhealthlakeland.org/covid19 or call 927-5100.

In addition to the Johnson & Johnson clinics mentioned above, the BCHD is also offering the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday.

Berrien data update

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Berrien County continued to fall this week for the second week in a row.

The county recorded about 260 new COVID-19 cases. That’s down from 336 cases last week and 400 cases the week before.

In April, Berrien County recorded 1,469 new COVID-19 cases. That makes April the month with the third highest number of new COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic behind November and December.

As new cases grew in April, so did deaths.

Berrien County recorded 21 COVID-19 deaths in April compared to nine in March. That brought April into fifth place for deaths. The most deaths, 61, were recorded in December, and the second highest, 34, were recorded last May.

With the county’s deaths and recoveries, there are about 1,429 active COVID-19 cases, as of Friday. That tally was sitting at about 1,536 last Friday and 1,475 the week before.

In total, since the start of the pandemic, Berrien County has recorded 13,212 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 1,451 presumed cases, 247 confirmed deaths, 18 presumed deaths and 11,536 recoveries.

Average COVID-19 hospitalizations at Spectrum Health Lakeland dropped to 34 a day this week. The average COVID patient count was 41 a day last week and 42 a day the week before.

On April 1, the hospital had about 25 patients admitted and was averaging about 24 patients a day.

Van Buren/Cass

Van Buren and Cass counties both saw declines in the number of new COVID-19 cases this week.

Van Buren County recorded 195 new COVID-19 cases this week. The county had recorded 212 cases last week and 339 cases the week before. The county recorded three deaths this week.

Cass County recorded 82 new COVID-19 cases this week. The county had recorded 129 last week and 130 the week before. The county recorded two deaths this week.

In total, Van Buren County has recorded 6,289 COVID-19 cases and 100 deaths. Cass County has recorded 4,587 COVID-19 cases and 69 deaths.

COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the two counties are also holding pretty steady.

Since last Thursday, vaccine providers in Van Buren County administered 3,118 doses of vaccine. The previous week they had administered 4,064 doses.

As of Thursday, 48,874 doses of vaccine had been administered in Van Buren County, with 20,189 of those being second doses.

That equates to 48.1 percent of the county’s population (16 and up) that have received at least their first dose of vaccine, and 37.4 percent that are fully vaccinated. Last Thursday, the county was at about 46.8 percent with at least one dose and 35.5 percent fully vaccinated.

In Cass County, 1,814 doses of vaccine were administered this week. The previous week 1,169 doses were administered.

As of Thursday, 23,485 doses had been administered in Cass County, with 9,698 of those being second doses.

That equates to 32.8 percent of the county’s population (16 and up) that have received at least their first dose of vaccine, and 24.4 percent that are fully vaccinated. Last Thursday, the county was at about 32.2 percent with at least one dose and 23.4 percent fully vaccinated.

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman