The Pandemic’s Impact on Children: COVID Vaccinations & Mental Health

Children’s health care professionals in the US have declared a national state of emergency in child and adolescent mental health. The ongoing stress, fear, grief, disruption of schooling and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic has weighed heavily on children and teens, and many are having a tough time coping emotionally.

Read the full article from NIHCM

Vaccinating Children Against COVID-19 in the US

Every child 5 and older is now eligible for the COVID vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the Pfizer pediatric vaccine for children 5-11 years old, and distribution has begun. While children 12 and older receive the same vaccine as adults, younger children receive one-third of the dose. The CDC expects vaccinating children 5-11 will prevent about 600,000 new cases from November 2021 to March 2022.

Read more from NIHCM.

COVID-19 Misinformation is Ubiquitous: 78% of the Public Believes or is Unsure About At Least One False Statement

More than three quarters (78%) of U.S. adults either believe or aren’t sure about at least one of eight false statements about the COVID-19 pandemic or COVID-19 vaccines, with unvaccinated adults and Republicans among those most likely to hold misconceptions, a new KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor report shows.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of unvaccinated adults believe or are unsure about at least half of the eight false statements – more than three times the share of vaccinated adults (19%). Nearly half (46%) of Republicans believe or are unsure about at least half the statements, three times the share of Democrats (14%).

The findings highlight a major challenge for efforts to accurately communicate the rapidly evolving science about the pandemic when false and ambiguous information can spread quickly, whether inadvertently or deliberately, through social media, polarized news sources and other outlets.

The new report assesses the public’s awareness of, and belief in, a range of “myths” about the disease and the vaccines to prevent it. The most common misconceptions include:

• Most (60%) adults say they’ve heard that the government is exaggerating the number of COVID-19 deaths by counting deaths due to other factors and either believe it to be true (38%) or aren’t sure if it is true or false (22%).

• Four in 10 (39%) say they’ve heard pregnant women should not get the COVID-19 vaccine and believe it to be true (17%) or aren’t sure (22%).

• Three in 10 (31%) say they’ve heard that the vaccine has been shown to cause infertility and either believe it (8%) or aren’t sure if it’s true (23%).

Children Ages 5-11 Now Eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

DOH expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility following recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. They reviewed data that found the vaccine to be safe and more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in younger children. Read the full news release.

New insight into COVID-19 outbreaks at Washington state schools

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has released the latest report on COVID-19 outbreaks in K-12 schools across the state, which covers the start of the 2021/2022 school year. The report includes data on both public and private schools that experienced a COVID-19 outbreak between August 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.

Notable data from the report:

  • 189 COVID‐19 outbreaks occurred in K‐12 schools. Of those, 42 occurred in August and 147 occurred during September.
  • The median size of an outbreak was 5 individuals.
  • Approximately 6% of all schools experienced an outbreak since the beginning of the school year.
  • 167 Outbreaks occurred in public schools and 22 occurred in private schools.
  • 120 were associated with grade schools, 48 with middle schools, and 55 in high schools.
  • A total of 1,284 COVID-19 cases were associated with outbreaks in K‐12 schools. The median age was 12.
  • 18 counties total reported COVID-19 outbreaks associated with schools.

“While we never want to see an outbreak occur in a school setting, the relatively small size of outbreaks is an indication that schools are working very hard to respond when there are cases among students, teachers, and staff,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, MPH, Deputy Secretary of Health, COVID-19 Response. “Getting young children vaccinated as soon as we are able will add the strongest protection possible. Everyone who is able to get vaccinated should do so now to offer protection to young kids who are not yet eligible.”

It’s important to note that DOH updated the school outbreak definition for the 2021/2022 school year. For the previous school year, the case count threshold to meet outbreak definition was two epidemiologically linked cases. For this school year, the threshold has been raised to 3 cases or 10% of a specified core group as defined in the K-12 School Outbreak Report.

This change was made to bring DOH in alignment with national standards based on the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) definition. The cases reported are epidemiologically linked to a school setting or a school-sanctioned extracurricular activity.

The most current COVID-19 resources for K-12 schools and child care are available at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/ResourcesandRecommendations.

FDA advisory panel votes 19-0 to endorse booster dose of J&J vaccine

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted Friday that booster shots should be made available to people who have received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.

Unlike the authorizations for boosters for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, no restrictions were put on the J&J booster. The panel effectively said that the J&J vaccine, like the other vaccines, requires two doses to be effective.

After sometimes heated discussion, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 19 to 0 that anyone who received the J&J vaccine should be offered a second dose.

“I think this frankly was always a two-dose vaccine,” Paul Offit, a researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said at the meeting. “It’s hard to recommend this as one dose vaccine.”

But panelists were also critical of data suggesting that the vaccine be given as a booster dose at six months, saying the data came from only 17 patients. However, they said they would not want to deny boosters to anyone who had not yet received one.

“If the vaccine isn’t adequate, then it should be boosted in everybody,” said Eric Rubin editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine. “I’m not sure why you’re asking for an indication that would apply to millions of patients with a data set that includes 17 patients.”

Read the full article from STATNews

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Dose Recommended for Certain Individuals

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) will immediately begin offering booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to certain individuals following recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP), and Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

At least six months after completing the primary Pfizer vaccine series, the following individuals should receive a booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine:

  • People 65 years of age and older,
  • People 18 years of age and older living in a long-term care setting, and
  • People 50 – 64 years of age with underlying medical conditions or those at increased risk of social inequities.

Additionally, the following individuals who completed a Pfizer vaccine series at least six months ago may receive a Pfizer booster dose:

“COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective in reducing the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the highly transmissible Delta variant,” said Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH. “As COVID-19 continues to evolve, booster doses will further protect vaccinated people who are at high-risk and those whose protection has decreased over time.”

At this time, there are not yet recommendations for people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA will evaluate data in the coming weeks and may make additional recommendations for other vaccine types. However, certain people who are immunocompromised can receive a third dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) following recommendations last month from the FDA, ACIP, and Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and are recommended for everyone 12 and older. Currently, there is plenty of vaccine available across the state for everyone who needs a dose. To find a vaccine location near you, visit Vaccine Locator or call the COVID-19 Information Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Language assistance is available.

Children & COVID, Boosters, & Climate Change

Back to School: Children and COVID-19

As students return to in-person learning this year, schools continue to grapple with reducing the spread of COVID-19 and the evolving state of the pandemic. The recent surges in cases and hospitalizations among children and the Delta variant are particularly concerning for children under 12, who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The ongoing health, economic, and social consequences of the pandemic continue to impact children.

  • Cases and hospitalizations: Cases have jumped as the Delta variant spreads among unvaccinated populations and has led to a record high in children’s hospitalizationsDoctors predict COVID-19 cases will continue to rise among children and children’s hospitals are preparing for an uptick in multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).
  • Back to school: Across the country, students and teachers are quarantined for coronavirus exposure and some schools have already switched back to remote learning. While districts begin announcing vaccine mandates for teachers, some states are challenging mask mandates in schools.
  • Vaccine: The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be available for children ages 5 to 11 in late fall or early winter. More parents are considering vaccinations as more children are infected by the Delta variant. Currently, over 50% of adolescents ages 12 to 15 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Read the Full Article from NIHCM.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Professional Services Providers

On August 9, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation that requires state agencies, healthcare workers, and educators to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  DSHS has determined this includes professional services providers contracted with DDA.

DSHS contracted providers who are licensed, certified, or registered as a healthcare professional with the Department of Health must be vaccinated by October 18, 2021.

Fully vaccinated means two weeks after your last vaccination.  A person must have had their last vaccination by October 4, 2021, to be considered fully vaccinated by the October 18 deadline.

The complete list of healthcare professionals who must be vaccinated can be found at Healthcare Professional Credentialing Requirements

The Washington State Department of Health’s DOH Vaccine Locator can help you make an appointment or find a walk-in site to receive the vaccine.

Additional information and directive can be found at:

Third dose of COVID-19 vaccine recommended for certain immunocompromised individuals

Health care providers can now offer third doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to certain immunocompromised individuals following recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP), and Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

While authorized vaccines have proven to be more than 90% effective in protecting against most variants, emerging data suggest people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people who are not immunocompromised. The third dose is not considered a booster, rather an additional dose for individuals who did not adequately develop immunities with the initial two-dose series. A full list of conditions is available on the CDC’s website.

“A third dose of Pfizer or Moderna will provide those who need it extra protection and help shield some of our most vulnerable from the highly contagious delta variant,” said Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH. “Science continues to show vaccines are the best tool we have to protect our communities and slow the spread of COVID-19.”

A person receiving a third dose should get it at least 28 days after dose two. When possible, the individual should receive the same vaccine as the first two doses, but may receive the other mRNA vaccine brand if the other vaccine is not available.  At this time, no additional dose is recommended for people who had the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. People who received J&J should not get a second dose of either J&J or a dose of an mRNA vaccine. Additionally, people with competent immune systems should not receive a third dose.

While vaccination is likely to increase protection, people who are immunocompromised should continue to wear a mask, maintain 6 feet of social distancing, avoid crowds, and avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces to protect themselves and those around them.  Close contacts of immunocompromised people are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to help place a bubble of protection around them.