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. 

Washington Healthplanfinder Announces Statewide Adventure Tour

Visit one of the base camps at the cities below and speak to someone who can guide you through the sign-up process.

Keep an eye out for the Washington Healthplanfinder adventure van at these times and places:

Nov. 27 | Bellingham, WA
First Friday Shop Local | 4 pm – 9 pm | 1336 Cornwall Ave.

Dec. 3 | Moses Lake, WA
Moses Lake Street Party | 5 pm – 8 pm | Sinkiuse Square on Third Avenue

Dec. 4 | Walla Walla, WA
Farmer’s Market and Holiday Parade | 9 am – 7 pm | 106 W Main St.

Dec. 9 | Tri-Cities, WA
After School Pop-Up with Tri-City Health | Time to be determined

Dec. 10 | Vancouver, WA
Vancouver Mall (outdoor courtyard) | 11 am – 5 pm | 8700 NE Vancouver Mall Dr.

Dec. 11 | Wenatchee, WA
Pybus Public Market | 10 am – 6 pm | 7 N Worthen St.

Dec. 17 | Olympia, WA
Oly on Ice | 3:30 pm – 9 pm | 529 4th Ave. W

Dec. 18 | Seattle, WA
Children’s Home Society in Kent (King County Public Health) | 10 am – 4 pm | 215 5th Ave. S, Kent, WA

Dec. 19 | Yakima, WA
Los Hernandez Tamales | 2 pm – 6 pm | 3706 Main St., Union Gap, WA

Jan. 7 | Spokane, WA
Spokane First Friday | 1 pm – 8 pm | 1318 W 1st Ave.

Universal Health Care Commission to Hold its First Meeting Next Week

On Tuesday, November 30, the Universal Health Care Commission (UHCC) will meet on Zoom. During their first meeting, UHCC members will receive:

  • An orientation to the legislation and commission purpose
  • Open Public Meetings training
  • A review of the draft charter and operating procedures

Meeting details

Tuesday, November 30, 2021
1-3 p.m.
Meet on Zoom (no registration required)

Live captioning may be available: Communication Access Real-time Transcription (CART) services, or live closed captioning, may be available for this event, on demand. To request this accommodation, please submit a request to rachelle.alongi@hca.wa.gov as soon as possible. We will make every effort to accommodate this request but cannot guarantee that a CART writer will be available.

What’s the UHCC?

Washington State seeks to establish a universal health care system for all residents, where people have access to affordable, high-quality health care. Senate Bill 5399 passed during the 2021 legislative session, creating a Universal Health Care Commission to aid in this effort.

View our commission roster.

Can I provide public comment or testimony?

Yes. Your input is a crucial part of the UHCC process. Every commission meeting will have a designated time for public comment. If you would like to let us know in advance you’ll be speaking, please contact us at HCA_UniversalHCC@hca.wa.gov. You can also submit comments in writing at any time.

Where can I get more information?

Sign up to receive announcements about the UHCC.

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

Pediatric Flu Vaccinations Down About 25% From This Time Last Year

OLYMPIA – Childhood flu vaccine rates have dropped significantly this fall compared to the previous two flu seasons. Now, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is encouraging families to get themselves and their children vaccinated as soon as possible to keep people safe and out of the hospital, especially as we head into the holiday season.

Flu is a highly contagious disease that can cause severe illness and death, even in healthy people. Recent data from the Washington state immunization information system shows flu vaccinations were down about 25% during the months of September and October for kids ages 6 months through 5 years old. Since last year’s flu activity was very low, we expect fewer people to have natural immunity this year due to a lack of exposure, especially in younger age groups.

“Flu can be serious for kids, and a flu vaccine is the best way to protect them. With the holidays quickly approaching, it is crucial parents take precautionary steps now to keep everyone in the family healthy and safe,” said Dr. Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, Chief Science Officer. “A flu vaccine is especially important this year due to the potential dangers of both flu and COVID-19 circulating at the same time.”

Flu activity is unpredictable. The timing, severity, and length can change from one year to the next. Typically, flu activity peaks between December and February, although significant activity can last as late as May.

“We are concerned that our youngest children remain vulnerable to both flu and COVID-19 illness,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “Although the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available for kids 4 and under, the flu vaccine is. As parents, we want to do everything in our power to protect our children – and vaccination is an important tool that’s available to every family in Washington.”

The flu vaccine is available at pharmacies, clinics, and health care provider offices across the state. To search for flu vaccines, visit Vaccines.gov. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. When children get their flu vaccine, it is a great time to ensure they are up to date on their other routine childhood immunizations as well. People age 5 and older who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine can receive it on the same day they receive the flu vaccine.

For weekly flu activity reports, educational materials, vaccine information, and other flu prevention resources, visit www.KnockOutFlu.org.

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%).

A Record 3,834 Medicare Advantage Plans Will be Available in 2022

A record 3,834 Medicare Advantage plans will be available across the country as alternatives to traditional Medicare for 2022, a new KFF analysis finds. That’s an increase of 8 percent from 2021, and the largest number of plans available in more than a decade.

At the same time, the number of Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription drug plans that will be offered in 2022 is decreasing by 23 percent to 766 plans, primarily the result of firm consolidations leading to fewer plan offerings sponsored by Cigna and Centene, according to another new KFF analysis.

These findings are featured in two briefs released by KFF today that provide an overview of the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D marketplace for 2022, including the latest data and key trends over time. Medicare’s open enrollment period began Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.

Medicare Advantage

More than 26 million Medicare beneficiaries – 42 percent of all beneficiaries – are currently in Medicare Advantage plans, which are mostly HMOs and PPOs offered by private insurers that are paid to provide Medicare benefits to enrollees.

In 2022, a typical beneficiary will have 39 plans to choose from in their local market. But the number of Medicare Advantage plans available varies greatly across the country, with an average of 42 plans in metropolitan areas and 25 plans in non-metropolitan areas. In 2022, 25 percent of beneficiaries live in a county where they can choose among 50 Medicare Advantage plans.

Most Medicare Advantage plans (89%) include prescription drug coverage. Fifty-nine percent of these plans do not charge any additional premium beyond Medicare’s standard Part B premium. More than 90 percent of non-group Medicare Advantage plans offer some vision, telehealth, hearing, or dental benefits.

Despite the average beneficiary having access to plans offered by nine different firms, Medicare Advantage enrollment is concentrated in plans operated by UnitedHealthcare, Humana, and Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates. Together, UnitedHealth and Humana account for 45 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollment in 2021.

Part D

As a result of consolidations in the stand-alone drug plan market, the typical Medicare beneficiary will have a choice of 23 stand-alone drug plans next year, seven fewer than in 2021. Beneficiaries receiving low-income subsidies (LIS) will also have fewer premium-free plan choices in 2022, which could make it more difficult for some enrollees to find a premium-free plan that covers all their prescription medications. In the stand-alone drug plan market, 8 out of 10 enrollees next year are projected to be in stand-alone plans operated by just four firms: CVS Health, Centene, UnitedHealth, and Humana.

The estimated average monthly premium for Medicare Part D stand-alone drug plans is projected to be $43 in 2022, based on current enrollment, while average monthly premiums for the 16 national stand-alone drug plans available in 2022 are projected to range from $7 to $99.


Nearly three-fourths, or 10 million, of the 13.3 million stand-alone drug plan enrollees who don’t qualify for low-income subsidies will have to pay higher premiums next year if they stick with their current plan, and many will also face higher deductibles and cost sharing for covered drugs. While the average weighted monthly PDP premium is increasing by $5 between 2021 and 2022 (from $38 to $43), nearly 4 million non-LIS enrollees (28%) will see a premium increase of $10 or more per month. Substantially fewer non-LIS enrollees (0.2 million, or 2%) will see a premium reduction of the same magnitude.

In addition to these two new analyses, KFF has updated its collection of frequently asked questions about Medicare Open Enrollment to help beneficiaries understand their options during the annual open enrollment period. A recent KFF analysis found that 7 in 10 Medicare beneficiaries say they did not compare their options during a recent open enrollment period. Comparing and choosing among the wide array of Part D plans can be difficult, given that plans differ from each other in multiple ways, beyond premiums, including cost sharing, deductibles, covered drugs, and pharmacy networks. Comparing Medicare Advantage drug plans may be made more difficult by the fact that not only drug coverage varies but also other features, including cost sharing for medical benefits, provider networks, and coverage and costs for supplemental benefits.

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.