Children Ages 6 months – 4 Years May Soon Be Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccination

Long-awaited pediatric vaccinations are currently in the authorization process

OLYMPIA: Several COVID-19 vaccination series for children are being considered for emergency use authorization in the coming days, including:

  • A Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 6 months — 4 years
  • A Moderna vaccines for children ages 6 months — 5 years
  • A second Moderna vaccine for youth ages 6 — 17 years

The agencies that must authorize or recommend vaccines for these ages are the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. If the recommendations for these vaccines pass, the Washington State Department of Health will begin supplying healthcare providers with vaccines for children ages 6 months to 4 years.

“Getting vaccinated remains the best way to protect yourself and those around you. We applaud the patience of parents anxiously awaiting this authorization. As a parent, I understand their desire to protect their child,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “We expect enough vaccines to meet initial demand and that supply will continue to increase in the coming days and weeks.

“We will continue to monitor supply to meet the needs of those seeking out COVID-19 vaccines for all age groups. We are all in it together.”

While parents are understandably eager for their young children to receive these vaccines, similar to other vaccine rollouts the Department of Health urges them to remain patient. Overwhelming demand may temporarily slow the pediatric vaccination process while more providers and healthcare systems may take time to support the potential increase in demand.

To make a vaccine or booster appointment, visit Vaccine Locator, Vaccines.gov, or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 833-VAX-HELP. Language assistance is available. If you do not find an appointment in your immediate area, we recommend that you continue checking as more providers come online. Those with further questions are encouraged to visit DOH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions webpage or talk to their trusted health care provider.

Children ages 5-11 now eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster dose

Booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are now available for children ages 5-11. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) expanded booster dose eligibility to include everyone 5 and older following guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

“The CDC’s announcement is welcome news as we continue to do everything we can to keep Washingtonians of all ages safe,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “This pandemic is not over and we must continue to use the tools at our disposal. This includes masking, therapeutics, vaccinations and – of course – boosters. Keeping yourselves and those around you safe is of utmost importance, and this recommendation is another step in that direction.”

The expansion of booster eligibility comes as COVID-19 cases are continuing to steadily rise across the county. The myth that COVID-19 is always a mild disease in children needs to be dispelled. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 4.8 million children ages 5-11 have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with 15,000 hospitalized and, tragically, 180 deceased.

DOH’s updated booster dose recommendations are as follows:

  • Children ages 5-11 should receive a booster dose five months after completing their primary vaccine series of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Immunocompromised children should receive their booster at least three months after their primary series.
  • Everyone 12 and older should receive a booster dose five months after completing their primary vaccine series of Pfizer or Moderna, or two months after receiving the single-shot Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.
  • Everyone 50 and older should receive a second booster dose four months after receiving their first booster dose.
  • Individuals 12 and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a second booster dose four months after receiving their first booster dose.
  • Those 18 and older who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of the J&J vaccine four months ago can receive a second booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

To make a vaccine or booster appointment, visit Vaccine Locator, Vaccines.gov, or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 833-VAX-HELP. Language assistance is available. Those with further questions are encouraged to visit DOH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions webpage or talk to their trusted health care provider.

Sweeping, Limited, or No Powers at All? What’s at Stake in the Mask Mandate Appeal

The definition of “sanitation.” An old court case that involves an underwear manufacturer. Whether people had a fair chance to express their opinions about wearing masks on planes.

These disparate factors are in the spotlight as the Biden administration challenges a U.S. District Court ruling that overturned a federal mask mandate on public transportation. The outcome could determine the limits of federal public health officials’ power not only during the covid-19 crisis but also when the next pandemic hits.

Sound complicated? It is.

About the only thing that’s clear so far is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask requirement for people traveling on planes, trains, and buses is not likely to make a comeback anytime soon. The Department of Justice’s appeal of the Florida judge’s decision to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could take weeks or months.

What might that appeal contain, and why is it important? The government has not yet filed its detailed arguments, so KHN spoke with several health law experts about what to expect.

Read the full article from KHN.

Recap of Recent COVID-19 News and Updates

Newest numbers. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reported a total of 1,493,194 confirmed cases as of 11:59 p.m. on April 26. There have been 12,686 COVID-19 deaths in Washington.

Data note: DOH is still experiencing delays in reporting cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as a result of prior slowdowns in our data systems during the omicron surge. We are clearing these backlogged cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as resources permit. The COVID-19 Epidemiological Curves tab is the most accurate representation of COVID-19 activity and is updated daily as new cases are identified and duplicates are resolved.

For the most recent number of cases by county, demographics, and more, visit the Department of Health’s dashboard.

Note: As of March 31, 2022, DOH will publish this bulletin on Thursdays only, and only if there is significant new information to share.

Reported COVID-19 reinfections in Washington state. This weekly report includes information on hospitalizations and deaths, demographics, trends over time, and vaccination status of people with a reinfection for which DOH has information about both infection events. Read the full April 27 report.

COVID-19 cases among children and youth in Washington. This weekly report provides information on COVID-19 in all children and youth, ages 0 to 19 years. Cases are broken down by educational service district (ESD) regions and age. Read the full April 27 report in English and in Spanish.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths by vaccination status. This weekly report provides a brief overview of confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among those who are not fully vaccinated in Washington state. Read the full April 27 report.

DOH SARS-CoV-2 sequencing and variants report. This weekly report summarizes genome sequencing coverage of Washington SARS-CoV-2 specimens from multiple laboratories from across the United States and our state. It provides a statewide view of sequencing capacity and data, including breakouts by county and demographics. Read the full April 27 report.

SARS-CoV-2 vaccine breakthrough surveillance and case information resource. This weekly report provides data and criteria on fully vaccinated people who test positive with SARS-CoV-2 and may or may not develop COVID-19 symptoms. Read the full April 27 report.

Second COVID-19 booster dose recommended for certain individuals

Additional mRNA dose will help further increase protection for those at highest risk

OLYMPIA – People age 50 and older and certain immunocompromised individuals can now get a second booster dose of an mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) COVID-19 vaccine at least four months after receiving their initial booster dose. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) updated its booster dose recommendations following guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

DOH’s updated booster dose recommendations are as follows:

  • Everyone 12 and older should receive a booster dose five months after completing their two-dose vaccine series of Pfizer or Moderna, or two months after receiving the single-shot Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.
  • Everyone 50 and older can receive a second booster dose four months after receiving their first booster dose.
  • Individuals 12 and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised can receive a second booster dose four months after receiving their first booster dose.
  • Those 18 and older who received a primary vaccine and booster dose of the J&J vaccine four months ago can receive a second booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

“Giving certain individuals the opportunity to receive a second booster dose will help us protect those at highest risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. It’s a great way for people over 50 to get added protection, especially those with underlying medical conditions and those 65 and older,” said Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, Chief Science Officer. “Boosters are safe and effective at preventing infection and severe illness. If you have not yet received your initial booster dose and you are eligible, get boosted as soon as possible.”

As of March 26, more than 2.7 million Washingtonians age 12 and older have received a booster dose, which is 58% of the eligible population. Of those age 50 and older, roughly 70% of the eligible population has received their first booster dose. This data can be found on DOH’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard under the “Vaccinations” tab.

To make a vaccine or booster appointment, visit Vaccine Locator, Vaccines.gov, or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 833-VAX-HELP. Language assistance is available. Those with further questions are encouraged to visit DOH’s COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions webpage or talk to their trusted health care provider.

Many Uninsured People Could Lose Access to Free COVID-19 Testing, Treatment, and Vaccines as Federal Funding Runs Out

With an impasse in Congress over additional COVID-19 emergency funding, uninsured people could lose access to free testing and treatment services, a new KFF brief explains.

For people without health insurance, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) COVID-19 Uninsured Program has reimbursed hospitals, doctors and other providers for the COVID-19 care and services that they provide to uninsured people. However, with federal funds running out, the program is no longer accepting new claims for testing and treatment services and will stop accepting claims for administering vaccines on April 5.

Many uninsured individuals would likely need to pay out of pocket for testing and some treatment services or rely on safety-net providers absorbing those additional costs without any way to get reimbursed. So long as supplies remain available, vaccines would continue to be paid for by the federal government and people could not be charged, but vaccine providers would not get paid for administering vaccines to uninsured people and could restrict access. This could exacerbate existing racial and ethnic disparities, as people of color are more likely than their White counterparts to be uninsured and face other potential barriers to accessing care.

The brief also outlines how the federal government has used previously authorized funds to purchase COVID-19 tests, medications, and vaccines, and the implications for efforts to help ensure equitable access to and ongoing availability of these resources as that funding runs out.

For people with health coverage, including Medicare and Medicaid, existing rules and protections will ensure that they will continue to have access to COVID-19 tests, treatment, and vaccines, though some limits on cost sharing will end when the ongoing federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends. If the federal government is no longer able to pre-purchase tests, treatment medications, and vaccines, supplies may run short if and when the next COVID-19 wave hits and demand increases.

Know Your COVID-19 Community Level

COVID-19 Community Levels are a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. Take precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 based on the COVID-19 Community Level in your area. 

Why Pregnant People Were Left Behind While Vaccines Moved at ‘Warp Speed’ to Help the Masses

Kia Slade was seven months pregnant, unvaccinated, and fighting for breath, her oxygen levels plummeting, when her son came into the world last May.

A severe case of covid pneumonia had left Slade delirious. When the intensive care team tried to place an oxygen mask on her face, she snatched it away, she recalled. Her baby’s heart rate began to drop.

Slade’s doctor performed an emergency cesarean section at her bedside in the intensive care unit, delivering baby Tristan 10 weeks early. He weighed just 2 pounds, 14 ounces, about half the size of small full-term baby.

But Slade wouldn’t meet him until July. She was on a ventilator in a medically induced coma for eight weeks, and she developed a serious infection and blood clot while unconscious. It was only after a perilous 2½ months in the hospital, during which her heart stopped twice, that Slade was vaccinated against covid-19.

“I wish I had gotten the vaccine earlier,” said Slade, 42, who remains too sick to return to work as a special education teacher in Baltimore. Doctors “kept pushing me to get vaccinated, but there just wasn’t enough information out there for me to do it.”

A year ago, there was little to no vaccine safety data for pregnant people like Slade, because they had been excluded from clinical trials run by Pfizer, Moderna, and other vaccine makers.

Lacking data, health experts were unsure and divided about how to advise expectant parents. Although U.S. health officials permitted pregnant people to be vaccinated, the World Health Organization in January 2021 actually discouraged them from doing so; it later reversed that recommendation.

Read the full article from KFF.

Care Connect Washington

Care Connect Washington

The Care Connect team is working with partners in providing Regional Care Coordination hubs to ensure essential services reach people who are in home isolation or quarantine as they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or come in contact with someone who has tested positive.

Learn More at Care Connect Washington