More than 40 new covid cases in town this week, third dose of mRNA vaccines available in some cases
Wareham saw 43 new cases of covid-19 over the past week, according to the state’s Aug. 26 covid-19 case data.
Last week the town saw 32 new cases — meaning the town’s number of new cases is up by 11 this week. The last time the Wareham’s new weekly case count was in the 40s was in April, when the town was classified as “red” in the state’s covid-19 risk reporting system.
Wareham’s average daily incidence rate jumped from 11.2 to 20.4 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days. Given Wareham’s population, 20.4 cases per 100,000 people means there were about 4.69 new cases each day over the past two weeks.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 1,894 coronavirus cases in Wareham.
The continuing uptick in cases comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech for everyone aged 16 or older. Full authorization was granted on Aug. 23. The vaccine remains available for those aged 12 to 15 and as a third dose for immunocompromised individuals under emergency use authorization.
The town’s vaccination rate lags behind other Massachusetts communities. According to the state’s Aug. 26 data, only 54 percent of Wareham residents have received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine. That amounts to 13,088 people — up 111 people from last week.
This week, Wareham reported that 50 percent of its residents — 11,974 people — are fully vaccinated.
Of the 27 municipalities in Plymouth County reporting vaccination data to the state, Wareham continues to report the second-lowest percentage of individuals with at least one dose. Only Middleborough had a lower percentage of individuals with at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine, at 53 percent.
Every other municipality in Plymouth County reported that at least 59 percent or more of its population had received at least one dose of a covid-19 vaccine.
Opportunities to get vaccinated
Local public health experts continue to encourage people to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
People aged 12 or older who live, work or study in Massachusetts are eligible to be vaccinated against covid-19. Those over the age of 18 can sign up to receive any vaccine, but those ages 12 to 17 can only get the Pfizer vaccine.
In Wareham, the CVS on Main Street (419 Main St.), the CVS on Cranberry Highway (2421 Cranberry Hwy Ste 110), the Walgreens on Marion Road (121 Marion Rd.) and the CVS in East Wareham (2992 Cranberry Hwy) offer covid vaccines for walk-in visitors or by appointment.
Those eligible for the vaccine can find appointments at providers around the state using the state’s website vaxfinder.mass.gov.
The state has also set up a call center for those who are unable to access the vaccine appointment website or who have trouble navigating the complex online system.
From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, people can call 211 and navigate to the vaccine help line by pressing one when prompted. The call center has workers on staff who speak English and Spanish, and there are translators available to support residents in about 100 additional languages.
Third doses available for immunocompromised residents
Wareham residents who are immunocompromised — especially solid organ transplant recipients and others who “have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases” — can receive a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna covid-19 vaccines through Southcoast Health.
The healthcare provider announced last week that it will administer the third shots to vulnerable people after the Centers for Disease Control recommended those with compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of Pfizer or Moderna 28 days or later after their second shot.
“Immunocompromised individuals are especially vulnerable to covid-19 due to increased risk of severe prolonged illness,” Southcoast Health spokesperson Shawn Badgley said. “Individuals who are immunocompromised may not have developed the same level of immunity after a two-dose vaccine series compared to non-immunocompromised individuals.”
Third doses are offered at Rosebrook Southcoast Physician Services on Rosebrook Way in Wareham on Thursdays (100 Rosebrook Way #200, Wareham).
Patients can also get a dose at Truesdale Health on President Avenue in Fall River on Tuesdays, and at 49 State Rd. in Dartmouth on Wednesdays.
The third dose recommendation only applies to mRNA vaccines and not those who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. According to Badley, the CDC does not have enough data regarding the response to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in immunocompromised individuals and therefore, is not recommending a third dose at the present time.
A third dose of the covid-19 vaccines is not the same as a booster shot.
“Sometimes people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised do not build enough (or any) protection when they first get a vaccination,” the CDC explains. “When this happens, getting another dose of the vaccine can sometimes help them build more protection against the disease. This appears to be the case for some immunocompromised people and COVID-19 vaccines. [...] In contrast, a ‘booster dose’ refers to another dose of a vaccine that is given to someone who built enough protection after vaccination, but then that protection decreased over time (this is called waning immunity). HHS has developed a plan to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots to people this fall.”
Immunocompromised residents interested in getting their third shot can sign up through their MyChart account or by visiting www.southcoast.org/covid-19-vaccine-scheduling.
For additional information about the available covid-19 vaccines, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/ or talk to your doctor.