As Lyon County prepares to pass 4,000 total COVID-19 cases amid a selective vaccination process, variants of the virus introduce new concerns.

“Another reason it’s important for us all to continue to use all the tools we have (masking, distancing, hand hygiene, vaccination) is the unknowns introduced by the variants of the virus,” said Mary McDaniel Anschutz, director of the Student Wellness Center, in an email following her interview. “We know one of the variants isn’t affected by one of the vaccines used in other countries and nearing use in the US, and we can be assured there will be additional variants to come. So, this is not the time to ease up on our strategies for prevention.”

In McDaniel’s interview, she stressed that even between vaccinations individuals remain vulnerable. The CDC outlined similar concerns in their newest report that recommends combining cloth masks over surgical masks or those with nose wiring to reduce transmission of the virus.

“After (your) first vaccination it takes about two weeks to get the full benefit from that first vaccination so you know you can definitely still get exposed in that time between when you get the shot and the full effect from it, so you absolutely have to be cautious,” McDaniel said.

Following Super Bowl weekend, McDaniel said an uptick in cases would not be surprising.

“I won’t be surprised if we do not see a bump from Super Bowl gatherings,” McDaniel said. “(Around Halloween last year) there were way too many gatherings at a time when there was and still is a lot of both symptomatic and asymptomatic illnesses, which is a bad combo.”

As McDaniel and her clinical staff have just finished their second-round immunizations, support staff at the wellness center must wait until the weekend for theirs.

“One of the things that last semester we would have like to been able to do more frequently is testing, so you have to be able to adjust as you go along and that was one of the things we changed this semester was to do smaller, more frequent testing opportunities,” Anchutz said. “I don’t know if that is the magic answer but that’s what we are going to try and I hope that is a strategy, it seems to be a strategy, that is useful, so I hope both staff and students (take advantage of that).”

With Lyon county preparing for the next round of vaccines to be distributed, emergency preparedness manager Andrew McHenry says vaccines like these will become yearly ordeals.

“This will end up being a seasonal vaccine just like the flue shot,” McHenry said. “It is going to be something that is gonna be lingering around. Unless there is some miracle vaccine or treatment which could eradicate all coronaviruses, which would be great.”

With a newborn at home, McHenry has been working to get volunteers from ESU and the local area for these clinics which he said can offer some level of relief for families like his.

“There is some relief. When I was volunteering, I was considered a frontline worker at that point, so I was able to receive the vaccine.” McHenry said. “There are some medical concerns within my family, so it was a great relief to be able to receive the vaccine knowing that I am.”

For more information on vaccine clinics visit publichealth.lyoncounty.org/covid-vaccine-dashboard.

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