This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) scientist was preparing to test a patient’s sample for SARS-CoV-2, using the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)–PCR Diagnostic Panel. (James Gathany/CDC 2020)

Roughly 90 percent of eligible Napa County residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose as local case and hospitalization data trends down, the county’s public health officer said Tuesday.

Unvaccinated residents continue to make up at least half of those being hospitalized due to COVID-19 or other factors, county Health and Human Services Agency Deputy Director Dr. Karen Relucio told the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning.

At the county’s most recent peak in hospital admissions in August, roughly half of those hospitalized were fully vaccinated, according to Relucio, who argued that two factors were likely at fault.

First, she said, as more residents get vaccinated, their overwhelming numbers are likely to disproportionately account for more hospitalizations.

In addition, as hospitalization rates have trending down for COVID-19 patients, residents who don’t have COVID have been more likely to seek medical care that they have delayed for a year or more.

“At this point, we are going down from our peak,” Relucio said. “We’re hoping to get back to normal in November, but that really does depend on several factors.”

One of the biggest factors, Relucio argued, will be the impending federal approval of COVID-19 vaccinations for children under age 12, which account for a significant swath of the county’s population.

While 85 percent of county residents age 12 and up are fully vaccinated, just 68 percent of the county’s total population has completed their vaccination series.

State officials have already signaled their intent to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend school in person once they are fully approved by federal regulators.

The county’s further reduction in cases will also be contingent on efforts to administer booster vaccine doses to certain demographics like people over age 65, people with significant underlying medical conditions, immunocompromised people and people at higher risk of contracting the virus because of where they work.

Relucio noted that the two age cohorts that have most commonly been hospitalized, regardless of vaccination status, have been people age 65-74 and people age 75-84.

“We are really bracing ourselves for this next effort,” Relucio said. “And, at this point, hopefully we will boost our way out of this pandemic.”