BCHHS Public Health Provider Update: COVID updates

October 25, 2021

State and Local COVID-19 Update

  •          As of today, there have been 28,011 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 418 COVID-19-related deaths in Buncombe County residents since the start of the pandemic.
  •          Since early September, Buncombe County has seen a steady decline in the case rate. The case rate now has fallen to 119 cases per 100,000 population in the last 7 days and the 14-day percent positivity has fallen to 5.4%. COVID-related hospitalizations and ICU utilization have been declining during this time as well.
  •          Per the NCDHHS dashboard, 63% of the total Buncombe County population is partially vaccinated and 60% is fully vaccinated. When considering only the eligible population (those 12 years of age and older), 71% of this population in Buncombe County is partially vaccinated and 68% is fully vaccinated.
  •          The NCDHHS weekly Respiratory Disease Surveillance Report contains a wide variety of data on COVID-19, including post-vaccination surveillance data, attack rates and mortality rates by vaccination status (starting on page 11).
    •    For the week ending October 16, 2021, unvaccinated individuals in NC were more than 4 times more likely to get COVID-19 and were 19.51 times more likely to die of COVID-19 when compared to vaccinated individuals.


Updates on Buncombe County COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

  •          The last day of our drive-through clinic was last Friday, 10/22.
  •          Walk-in COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic
    •    BCHHS building, 40 Coxe Avenue in downtown Asheville
    •    All 3 types of COVID-19 vaccines and all doses are available here.
    •    The clinic is open Mon-Fri from 9am-4pm.
    •    No appointment needed.
  •          COVID-19 vaccines for the homebound
    •    We are able to provide any recommended dose of any of the 3 types of COVID-19 vaccine to those living in Buncombe County who cannot easily leave their homes to access vaccination.
    •    If you know someone in need of this service, have them or their caregiver call the Buncombe County Ready Team at 828-419-0095.
  •          School-based Saturday COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics – in the planning phase currently
    •    As we anticipate the authorization of and recommendation for COVID vaccination of 5-11 year olds in early November, we are planning several school-based Saturday clinics across the county for November & December. More to come on this soon.


Updates on Booster Doses for COVID-19 Vaccines

  •          Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna
    •    Booster shots are now available for the following individuals who completed their initial series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months ago:
    •    The booster dose of the Moderna vaccine is half the dose that is given for the initial two doses.
  •          J&J
    •    Booster shots also are recommended for those who are 18 years of age and older and received the J&J vaccine at least 2 months ago.
  •          Mix and match dosing
    •    CDC’s recommendations now allow eligible individuals to choose which of the three available vaccines they receive as a booster dose.
    •    Limited preliminary evidence suggests that booster doses of one of the two mRNA vaccines—Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech—more effectively raise antibody levels than a booster dose of the J&J vaccine.
    •    NCDHHS encourages individuals to speak with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist if they have questions about what booster is right for them.
  •          CDC’s Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccine Currently Approved or Authorized in the US has not yet been updated yet with this information, but should be soon.


CDC Clinician Call on COVID-19 Boosters


Updates on COVID-19 Vaccine for 5-11 Year Olds

  •          The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) is meeting tomorrow, October 26th to review data on the use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children 5-11 years of age.
  •          Following this meeting, the FDA must adopt or reject VRBPAC’s recommendations and issue an emergency use authorization for the vaccine.
  •          CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is scheduled to meet November 2nd & 3rd to review the data and vote on recommendations.
  •          Following that, the CDC must adopt or reject ACIP’s recommendations and guidance.
  •          Assuming that the FDA and CDC issue recommendations for vaccination of this age group, providers should be able to begin vaccinating this age group soon after November 3rd.
  •          This Pfizer vaccine will be a different formulation from the vaccine given to those 12 and older (see graphic below).


Updates to COVID-19 Testing Guidance from the CDC

  • CDC now recommends fully vaccinated people get tested 5-7 days after close contact with a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. (It was previously 3-5 days after contact.) Our contact tracers are now providing this guidance to individuals identified as close contacts.
  • Here is the full guidance on timing of testing of close contacts:
    • People who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated should quarantine and get tested immediately after being identified as a close contact. If the test is negative, they should get tested again 5–7 days after last exposure and continue to quarantine. If symptoms develop during quarantine, they should isolate and get tested immediately.
    • People who are fully vaccinated should get tested 5-7 days after coming into close contact with someone with COVID-19 and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days or until they test negative. If symptoms develop, they should isolate and get tested immediately.
    • People who have had COVID-19 within the past 90 days and recovered should wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days after exposure, monitor for symptoms, and consult with a healthcare professional for testing recommendations if they develop new symptoms.

If you have any concerns or questions about COVID-19 or any other communicable disease, please contact the Buncombe County Communicable Disease staff at 828-250-5109 (available 24/7).


Thanks for all you do to improve and maintain the health of our communities,


Jennifer Mullendore, MD, MSPH


Health & Human Services – Medical Director

(828) 250-6308 cell (828) 989-6145

40 Coxe Ave., Asheville, NC 28801 

Respect. Integrity. Collaboration. Honesty. Equity.

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