COVID-19 vaccine call center chronic conditions

Gigi Halloran makes a phone call to help Teton County residents schedule an appointment to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Eligible individuals needing help signing up for a vaccine can call 732-8628, option 1. Volunteers staff the call center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.

The Teton County Department of Health will announce Monday how people with chronic health conditions can sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine.

That priority group will include conditions like cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, solid organ transplant, sickle cell disease, down syndrome and pregnancy.

“Those are all defined on our website,” Teton County Director of Health Jodie Pond said at Friday’s community COVID-19 update streamed from Town Hall. “They’re very specific. So please, before you sign up, you have to meet the criteria for what those chronic conditions are.”

Although pregnant women are part of that priority group, health officials are encouraging them to talk with their health care providers about their individual needs.

So far, there’s no data specifically evaluating COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women though a few pregnant women were inadvertently enrolled in vaccine trials, according to Andrew Satin, director of gynecology and obstetrics, and Jeanne Sheffield, director of maternal-fetal medicine at John Hopkins Medicine, based in Baltimore.

“There are not any known safety concerns, but more data will be available in the weeks and months ahead from additional studies,” Satin and Sheffield say in an article published on the John Hopkins website.

The vaccine is authorized for pregnant women, Teton District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell said. Given the lack of data, however, he said, he thinks it should be an individual choice.

“I would recommend that anyone in that position talk to their health care provider to help decide what’s the best,” he said.

Riddell also said pregnant women are on the priority list for good reason.

“Pregnancy is a high-risk condition for more severe COVID disease that’s similar to influenza,” Riddell said. “We know that women who get either of these viruses are more likely to get sicker from them when they’re pregnant, which is obviously part of the equation to be balancing here and deciding whether or not to get vaccinated.”

Dr. Paul Beaupre, the medical director of COVID response for St. John's Health, said among hospital staff who were pregnant and were offered vaccines as health care workers, many chose to get vaccinated.

What’s more, the hospital has had women with COVID-19 deliver and “the babies have been tested at the time of delivery and have not tested positive,” he said. “So it doesn’t look as though this particular virus crosses the placental membrane.”

Contact Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington at 732-7078 or rebecca@jhnewsandguide.com.

Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington has worked for newspapers across the West. She hosts a rescue podcast, The Fine Line. Her family minivan doubles as her not-so-high-tech recording studio.

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