142,000 New Child COVID Cases This Week

As of November 18, almost 6.8 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. This week nearly 142,000 child cases were added, an increase of about 32% from two weeks ago. Child cases have declined since a peak of 252,000 the week of September 2nd, but COVID cases among children remain extremely high. For the 15th week in a row child COVID-19 cases are above 100,000. Since the first week of September, there have been over 1.7 million additional child cases.

The age distribution of reported COVID-19 cases was provided on the health department websites of 49 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Since the pandemic began, children represented 16.9% of total cumulated cases. For the week ending November 18, children were 25.1% of reported weekly COVID-19 cases (children, under age 18, make up 22.2% of the US population).

A smaller subset of states reported on hospitalizations and mortality by age; the available data indicate that COVID-19-associated hospitalization and death is uncommon in children.

At this time, it appears that severe illness due to COVID-19 is uncommon among children. However, there is an urgent need to collect more data on longer-term impacts of the pandemic on children, including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects.

Read the full article from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

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.

Tips for a Safer Holiday Season

With Halloween and other holidays fast approaching, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) wants to remind people about ways to enjoy the holidays while still protecting themselves, their loved ones and their community from the spread of COVID-19.

Tips for a safer holiday season:

  • Get vaccinated to protect yourself and others not yet eligible (such as young children) from COVID-19.
  • Wear a cloth face covering or mask anytime you are with people from outside your household, whether indoors or outside.
    • Make sure face coverings or masks fit snugly and cover your mouth and nose.
    • Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask when indoors or in crowded outdoor spaces.
  • Avoid crowded or confined spaces. Outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities. If you’re inside, make sure to have proper ventilation, and open doors and windows when possible.
  • Watch distance and limit close contact with people outside of your household. Where possible stay six feet apart and keep closer contact brief, especially among people at high risk for severe COVID-19 or are not fully vaccinated.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands (and the hands of little ones) often.
  • Stay home if you are sick or were recently exposed to COVID-19. If you have symptoms or you’ve been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, get tested.
  • If you are planning to travel visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) travel page for up-to-date guidance on domestic and international travel and other travel recommendation. CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.
  • To learn more about safer ways to celebrate the holidays visit the CDC’s holiday celebrations web page.

“We know that holiday traditions are important to children and families and there are ways that we can enjoy the holidays, while reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19”, said Lacy Fehrenbach, Deputy Secretary for the COVID-19 response. “By using these simple holiday safety tips, we all can have fun and connect with loved ones during the holidays, while protecting the health and well-being of ourselves, our family and friends, and members of the communities where we live.”

 If your Halloween plans include trick or treating, remember these simple safety tips.

  • Stick with members of your own household and distance from others when in crowded indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • Wear a cloth mask and remember: a plastic costume mask is not a suitable substitute.
  • Wash your hands before and after trick-or-treating.
  • Bring plenty of hand sanitizer

If you give out treats:

  • Limit candy to individually wrapped treat bags. This reduces the number of people who would typically touch items in a communal
  • To avoid crowding, place treats on a table in your driveway or yard.
  • Place a few mini pumpkins or other decorations 6 feet apart to signal a line and keep trick- or-treaters distanced while waiting for

For more information on how you can enjoy the holiday season while minimizing the risk of COVID-19, visit the DOH tips for safer gatherings page. Also, remember to check in with your local health jurisdiction as they may have additional guidance or requirements for celebrating Halloween and other holidays safely this year.

Scientists Search for Cause of Mysterious Covid-Related Inflammation in Children

Like most other kids with covid, Dante and Michael DeMaino seemed to have no serious symptoms.

Infected in mid-February, both lost their senses of taste and smell. Dante, 9, had a low-grade fever for a day or so. Michael, 13, had a “tickle in his throat,” said their mother, Michele DeMaino, of Danvers, Massachusetts.

At a follow-up appointment, “the pediatrician checked their hearts, their lungs, and everything sounded perfect,” DeMaino said.

Then, in late March, Dante developed another fever. After examining him, Dante’s doctor said his illness was likely “nothing to worry about” but told DeMaino to take him to the emergency room if his fever climbed above 104.

Two days later, Dante remained feverish, with a headache, and began throwing up. His mother took him to the ER, where his fever spiked to 104.5. In the hospital, Dante’s eyes became puffy, his eyelids turned red, his hands began to swell and a bright red rash spread across his body.

Hospital staffers diagnosed Dante with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a rare but life-threatening complication of covid-19 in which a hyperactive immune system attacks a child’s body. Symptoms — fever, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, bloodshot eyes, rash and dizziness — typically appear two to six weeks after what is usually a mild or even asymptomatic infection.

Read the full article from KHN.

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

More than 120,000 US kids had caregivers die during pandemic

NEW YORK (AP) — The number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.

More than half the children who lost a primary caregiver during the pandemic belonged to those two racial groups, which make up about 40% of the U.S. population, according to the study published Thursday by the medical journal Pediatrics.

“These findings really highlight those children who have been left most vulnerable by the pandemic, and where additional resources should be directed,” one of the study’s authors, Dr. Alexandra Blenkinsop of Imperial College London, said in a statement.

Read the full article from AP.