COVID Q&A: Vaccine safety, different rates of testing positivity, cases in schools, and fall predictions

How do we know that the vaccine will be safe since it’s being fast-tracked through the clinical trials?

Idaho Public Health officials are watching this issue very closely and are committed to providing safe and effective vaccines for Idahoans. In particular, we are reassured that:

  1. These are companies like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck that are in the health field for the long haul—they don’t want to risk their reputation with the American public by issuing a poor or unsafe vaccine.
  2. The FDA has pledged to give COVID-19 vaccines a full review and not be pressured to act more quickly than might be safe.
  3. The National Academy of Medicine recently announced a committee that will create an overarching framework to help policymakers plan for equitable allocation of vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, made up of independent researchers, doctors, scientists, and public health workers, will review the data and make recommendations for the use of the vaccine.
  4. Lastly, manufacturers have committed to full safety and efficacy reviews. Read the pledge:

Why is Idaho’s testing positivity rate so much lower than other trusted sites, like Johns Hopkins?

There are a couple of reasons for this discrepancy. The data used to calculate the percent positivity of tests in Idaho on sites like Johns Hopkins is typically older, and it hasn’t been de-duplicated. The data they are using is not as “clean” as the data being used to calculate the percent positivity on Idaho’s dashboard. If you read those sites closely, you can often find some details about their methods and data limitation in the notes.

While Idaho’s data is the most accurate, the information presented on the other sites such as Johns Hopkins does allow states to be compared because the data are gathered the same way regardless of each states processes (which might vary abd be difficult to compare) and for public health officials and others to watch the trends over time.

Why can the state health department report cases by long-term care facilities but not by schools? 

Cases of disease in all states are tracked by a person’s permanent address. A long-term care facility is a residence, but a school is not. Since cases are reported by their residence and not by which school a child attends, compiling that data becomes difficult and complex. State and local public health are notified of cases in children, and those cases are counted and included in the data dashboard. The age categories were just recently divided in the case demographics for children and are now being displayed by age group (0-4, 5-12, 13-17) to better display cases among children. But the health district doesn’t know what school a child attends until they do the case investigation, and the parent agrees to provide that information. We know this is important information for many people, and we are working on ways to provide it publicly.

As the rate of infection and the percent positivity have been decreasing, should we be worried about what will happen in the fall as flu season starts and people spend more time indoors?

While we are watching closely and planning for immunizations once they are approved and available, we do have some concerns as fall brings cooler temperatures and the start of flu season.

  1. Cooler weather means people will spend more time indoors and have more opportunities for transmission. Remember to wear your mask, keep up with physical distancing, stay home if you’re sick, and wash your hands frequently. Please follow the recommended guidelines in your communities for gatherings as well.
  2. Other respiratory viruses, especially flu, will begin to spread, stretching our healthcare capacity. Remember to get your flu shot! Everything you are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also will help prevent the spread of flu.
  3. As children head back to their classrooms, that means more opportunities to spread COVID-19. We continue to work with schools to help keep them safe, so our children can remain in school.

To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Idaho, please remember to:

  • Keep at least six feet between you and others in public
  • Wear face coverings in public places 
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wash your hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects regularly


Stay up-to-date with the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19 at the following websites:

DHW also posts lots of information, including daily updates on the numbers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

6 thoughts on “COVID Q&A: Vaccine safety, different rates of testing positivity, cases in schools, and fall predictions

    1. idhwmedia

      Some tests have been authorized for home collection and some that can be prescribed via telehealth visits. Locally, these can be available through Albertson’s SavOn pharmacies. More information can be found at the FDA EUA website:

      This site can be sorted by “product attributes” and tests authorized for home collection are listed. For additional information you can click on the instructions for use (IFU) document.

  1. Pingback: Health and Welfare: School-by-school coronavirus reports could come soon

  2. Pingback: School-by-school coronavirus reports could come soon in Idaho - Idaho News Online

  3. Pingback: School-by-school coronavirus reports could come soon in Idaho - Idaho Daily News

  4. Pingback: School-by-school coronavirus reports could come soon in Idaho - Ask Your Family Doc

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s