The TRACE-COVID-19 program at Oregon State University is partnering with Samaritan Health Services this weekend to offer door-to-door vaccinations as TRACE conducts its seventh community survey in Corvallis for the coronavirus.
Participants will also be invited, for the first time, to give a saliva sample to be tested for antibodies in addition to providing a nasal swab sample that determines if someone is currently infected. TRACE sampling will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 5 and 6.
Removing barriers to vaccination
“By partnering with Samaritan Health Services, we are able to rapidly offer vaccinations without folks needing to make appointments or travel to a vaccination site,” says TRACE project leader Ben Dalziel, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Science. “That’s a useful tool for increasing vaccination rates and for future rapid response needs we may have as the pandemic evolves. The vaccines are safe and effective – the key now is to remove barriers to vaccination. That’s what this door-to-door vaccination effort is about.”
As they survey randomly selected households and neighborhoods throughout Corvallis, TRACE Community field workers will offer vaccinations, administered by teams from Samaritan, to participants age 12 and older who have not yet received any vaccine doses.
Available are the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Anyone who receives a Pfizer vaccine will be scheduled for a second-dose appointment. Pfizer is authorized for administration to anyone 12 and older. Children under 15 must have parental consent – either a signed form or a parent or guardian present at the time of vaccination. Johnson & Johnson is authorized for anyone 18 and older.
”Oregon State University is a tremendous partner for both Samaritan Health Services and Benton County Public Health in our community vaccination efforts,” says Laura Hennum, CEO of Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. “The COVID-19 vaccines are our best way to end the pandemic, and we are committed to doing all we can to vaccinate as many individuals in our community as possible. We are proud to support the TRACE-COVID-19 program.”
“More and more people continue to be vaccinated but we still need to do all we can to keep that momentum. The TRACE team is ecstatic that Oregon State and Samaritan are teaming up to bring vaccines to peoples’ doorsteps,” says TRACE co-leader Jeff Bethel, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “We’re also pleased to continue monitoring community prevalence of the virus, and the addition of antibody testing is an important part of that.”
The saliva testing will show the presence of antibodies and also whether they resulted from a vaccine or from a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, Ben says, adding that individual antibody results will not be made available to participants because of lab certification rules.
“However, we will provide aggregate results from the antibody testing, estimating the fraction of Corvallis that has antibodies from the vaccine or from previous infection, and test results from the nasal swab samples will be returned to the participants as always,” he says.
The last time TRACE Community field workers collected nasal swab samples in Corvallis, March 13 and 14, the results yielded a community prevalence estimate of 13 COVID-19 cases per 1,000 people, the project’s highest estimate for Corvallis by a margin of about 10 cases per 1,000. The prevalence estimates are based on a variety of inputs, including test sensitivity, number of people tested and where those testing positive live.
In Corvallis, where the participation percentage has consistently been around 70%, a weekend of door-to-door visits can produce nearly 700 samples.
“We greatly appreciate how the Corvallis community has embraced our public health effort and we hope people in the community continue to do so,” says Javier Nieto, dean of OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and one of the TRACE-COVID-19 project’s principal research investigators.
How it works
Participants will be given a nasal-swab test kit that they administer to themselves and to their minor children if they want them to take part. Participants will also be invited to spit into a sample tube for antibody testing; less than one-half of a teaspoon is needed.
TRACE field staff will wait outside at each home, and the participants will place the completed test kits outside their front door. The field workers will leave participants with information about the project and how they will receive their nasal swab results – available within a few days – as well as health guidance from the Benton County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Participants will receive their nasal swab results and those of their minor children by secure email with receipt by mail as a backup. Personal information will be safeguarded.
The TRACE project is a collaboration of five OSU colleges – Science, Agricultural Sciences, the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, and Public Health and Human Sciences – plus the OSU Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing.
TRACE-COVID-19 has received funding from OSU, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, PacificSource Health Plans and the Oregon Health Authority and has been aided by work from the OSU Foundation and the OSU Alumni Association. It works in partnership with the Benton County Health Department in Corvallis and other county health departments around the state.
The nasal swab diagnostic testing component of TRACE operates through a partnership between the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which is located at OSU, and Willamette Valley Toxicology.
For more information about TRACE, visit the TRACE-COVID-19 website. The site includes a list of frequently asked questions.