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Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare discusses vaccine incentives, when the pandemic will officially be "over" during biweekly meeting

The recipient of an IDHW grant is teaming up with local event planners, such as Treefort and Alive After Five, to encourage Idahoans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare (IDHW) held its biweekly COVID-19 press briefing at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday. 

Public Health Administrator Elke Shaw-Tulloch, State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn, Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Kathryn Turner, and Idaho Immunization Program manager Sarah Leeds were present.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline across the state. Shaw-Tulloch said the seven-day average per 100,000 remains below 10 and the testing positivity rate remains at 3.6%, below the target of 5%.

Shaw-Tulloch also said the state reached another vaccine milestone this week: more than half of Idaho adults (50.2%) age 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. She also emphasized President Joe Biden's announcement that the United States will likely not reach its goal of 70% of adults having at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4.

Many Idahoans are still employing a "wait-and-see" approach when it comes to vaccinating themselves and their children. It is important to note that the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine approved for children 12 and older.

Because of the continued hesitancy, Shaw-Tulloch said the state is employing a wide variety of tactics to increase vaccine confidence and accessibility. The state continues to train pediatricians and other healthcare providers on vaccine administration and talking to patients about the vaccine.

The state is still offering grants to vaccine providers, which can be used for mobile vaccine clinics and other vaccination efforts statewide. One grantee is hosting an event called "Rock the Shot" and partnering with local events, such as Treefort and Alive After Five, to encourage those 12 and older to get the vaccine while enjoying local music, vendors and other amenities. 

Health officials also discussed if and when the COVID-19 pandemic will be declared officially "over". Shaw-Tulloch said the state has metrics it considers to determine when the pandemic will end.

Hahn said Idaho would never declare the pandemic to be over on its own and that the state cannot declare it over until the country does. Because COVID-19 is not a single virus- due in part to new variants- it is possible that another wave of cases could be in the future. 

Hahn also said the state cannot declare the pandemic officially over while so many Idahoans are unvaccinated.

During the last meeting on June 8, public health officials highlighted the state's recovery from COVID-19, sharing encouraging vaccine, case rate and hospitalization data.

During the May 25 press briefing, Jeppesen expressed concern about a trend that shows fewer people across the state are getting the COVID-19 vaccine, including young people.

The meeting will be live-streamed on KTVB.COM and the KTVB YouTube channel. To watch the press briefing live, click below: