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Viewpoint: 3 factors motivating more Idahoans to get vaccinated

Idaho's top infectious disease official says the state has seen a bump in COVID-19 vaccination numbers in recent days.

BOISE, Idaho — State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn says full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, concerns about the more contagious Delta variant of COVID, and back-to-school season are motivating more Idahoans to get vaccinated.

The Food and Drug Administration just approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in anyone 16 and older on Monday. 

Hahn believes the FDA approval is partly responsible for a slight uptick in the number of people getting vaccinated since then. Still, only 48% of Idahoans 12 years and older are fully vaccinated against the disease.

"We saw a bump almost immediately," she said. "I think there are a couple of reasons for the bump. First of all, there are some parents with back to school who do want their kids vaccinated who brought their kids in. There are some people with all the news about the delta variant, that that variant is a little bit more worrisome, I'm going to go ahead and get the vaccine. And there are some that the licensing, I think, probably made the difference. So I think we have a mix of things going on, but we are seeing increases in our vaccine numbers day over day."

Still, Hahn says she wishes the rate of vaccinations was higher in Idaho.

"We do worry as our hospitals are getting stressed and full of COVID patients," Hahn said. "We know that most of those could have been prevented if those people had gotten the vaccine. So we wish we had more vaccine early on, but we're happy to see people getting vaccinated now. They get good protection within weeks, but right now we are just hoping to continue to urge Idahoans to consider the vaccine as we see Delta cases surge."

State health leaders have said that virtually all of the patients in hospitals being treated for COVID are unvaccinated. The percentage is in the high 90s. The same goes for those who have died of the disease.

As of Friday morning, 726,003 Idahoans are fully vaccinated. Another 85,153 have received one dose of a two-dose series.

On this Sunday's Viewpoint, Hahn also talks about the concerning COVID case trends, and gives her viewpoint on masks in schools. Viewpoint airs Sunday at 9 a.m. right after Meet the Press on KTVB NewsChannel 7.

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