Vaccine by Jcomp

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine won yet another race this week on Nov. 2, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the vaccine for children ages 5-11 under the Emergency Use Authorization. It will be a two-dose, three weeks apart process, just like it was for adults, and will be one-third the dose as compared to those 12 and up. The potential for booster shots will come after there is time to further study the impact of widespread vaccination in the youngest population.

Both the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the pediatric vaccine and on Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky gave the go-ahead to begin immediately administering the vaccine.

According to a CDC press release, “Similar to what was seen in adult vaccine trials, vaccination was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 among children aged 5-11 years. In clinical trials, vaccine side effects were mild, self-limiting, and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children. The most common side effect was a sore arm.”

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus that causes COVID-19,” Dr. Walensky said. “We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine. As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated.”

The spread of the delta variant over the summer led to a surge in cases, an uptick in lingering symptoms and increased chance of hospitalization in children, according to the CDC.

The 5-11 age group represents about 28 million people, who have at least 10.6% of infections. Many don’t show symptoms and therefore go undiagnosed.

The Pfizer drug trials included 2,250 kids and reported over 90% effectiveness, and through the two months after the second does there were no reported cases of myocarditis, or heart inflammation, according to the data from the trials.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supported the approval of the “safe, effective” vaccine rollout for kids 5-11.

“We know from our experience with the delta variant that this virus is unpredictable, and we cannot afford to be complacent,” AAP President Lee Ann Savio Beers, M.D., FAAP said. “It is critical to use science and data to guide our decisions about the pandemic and school COVID-19 plans. We have also entered flu season, and now have an opportunity for children to receive vaccinations for both the flu and COVID-19, which can be done during a single visit.”

The AAP said vaccines and masking are the top two ways to prevent spread and keep children safe and in school.

According to AAP and the Children’s Hospital Association data, nearly 6.4 million kids under 18 have tested positive for COVID-19. The latest report that covers the week ending Oct. 28 shows that 100,630 cases were reported, with is nearly a quarter of all cases as 416,059 adults tested positive. The good news is the number is the eighth straight week of decline from the peak of 252,000 cases in kids from the week of Sept. 2. Since that week there have been 1.3 million new cases in kids.

As of Oct. 27, the AAP and CDC report that 13.6 million kids 12-17, which is about 58% of that population, have received at least the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna. Just over 11 million are fully vaccinated, which is about half that population.

On Nov. 3, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement, “Last night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the Pfizer vaccine for kids age 5-11 and New York State’s Clinical Advisory Task Force unanimously agreed with the CDC.”

She continued, “We have been preparing for this moment, working with pediatricians and other providers to help get shots administered so that we can protect our kids from COVID-19 and finally put an end to the pandemic. Many providers may be waiting for more in-depth clinical information before they begin providing shots to 5-  to 11-year-olds, so be sure to check with your provider to see if they are currently administering the vaccine.”

Katonah-Lewisboro School District announced that is circulating an optional survey to school community members to gauge parent interest in a vaccine program for their children ages 5-11. The results will help Westchester County officials determine if there is sufficient interest to set up a vaccination clinic in the area. 

Booster shot update

New CDC data says that those who have had COVID-19 have antibodies that protect them to some degree for up to six months, roughly the same amount of time the vaccines offer protection. The difference, according the data, “is some people develop very little immunity from being infected while almost everybody gains immunity from vaccines,” according to the Poynter Institute, which also said the antibodies are not as “robust.”

Those who had the two doses of the mRNA Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must meet certain qualifications to get a booster, while those who got Johnson & Johnson/Janssen only need to be 18 years of age or older and have gotten the shot at least two months before receiving a booster.

For Pfizer and Moderna you must be 65 or older; 18 and over who live in long-term care settings; 18 and over who have underlying medical conditions; 18 and over who work or live in high-risk settings; and at least six months removed from your second dose.

As the mix and match (heterologous) of booster vaccines was approved Oct. 20, studies suggest the more effective booster to get for those who received the one-dose J&J shot is Moderna.

The CDC could recommend a fourth dose — a half dose this time — for the severely immunocompromised and could change the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include the booster shots. A fully vaccinated person is currently someone who is 14 days past either two doses of Pfizer of Moderna, or one dose of the J&J shot.

Traveling to the U.S.

On Monday, Nov. 8, the United States will end the travel ban that started in early 2020 and impacted China, India, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City, with more countries later affected. According to the Poynter Institute, airlines will be collecting information for contact tracing and must keep that for 30 days.

The borders with Canada and Mexico will reopen for those who are fully vaccinated and/or those who show a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours. However, those who are vaccinated will need a negative test within three days of their trip.

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