Today’s TIP News: CDC recommends COVID boosters for kids 12-15; Texas health officials ask folks not to go to hospital ERs for COVID tests; dogs sniff out COVID in schools; and the pandemic may mean a comeback for measles.
Hello, and welcome to TIP News for Jan. 6, 2022. TIP News is a podcast production of The Immunization Partnership. My name is John David Powell.
In today’s TIP News: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends COVID boosters for kids 12-15; Texas health officials ask folks not to go to hospital ERs for COVID tests; dogs sniff out COVID in schools; and the pandemic may mean a comeback for measles.
Let’s begin with that CDC recommendation for COVID booster shots for kids 12-15. It follows yesterday’s ACIP endorsement. That’s the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. This means kids 12-17 should get a booster shot five months after completing their first Pfizer-BioNTech series. Right now, those kids can get only the Pfizer vaccine.
Data the ACIP members considered show boosters help broaden and strengthen protection against Omicron and other SARS-CoV-2 variants. CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer Sara Oliver told the committee that in addition to preventing coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths, two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are s 91 percent effective against a severe, linked condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C.
That finding based on a case-control study that included more than 100 MIS-C patients and 181 hospitalized people ages 12 to 18.
State health and medical folks want Texans to stop going to hospital emergency rooms for COVID tests.
Dr. Ralph Riviello is the chair of emergency medicine at San Antonio’s University Hospital. He told the Texas Tribune that the number of folks going to the ER for a COVID test has grown so much lately that his department now has a nurse provider to screen and evaluate patients with COVID-like symptoms. Adding that the health care system does not have the bandwidth to serve as a walk-in COVID-19 testing center.
Other emergency rooms across the state also report a jump in testing requests. The Texas Tribune reports that Austin’s health department asked residents to stop calling 9-1-1 for testing information.
But getting a home test is not easy-peasy. Demand for those rapid antigen home testing kits has drained supplies at local pharmacies and good luck for getting an appointment at a testing center.
Three school districts in Massachusetts have turned to dogs to sniff out COVID. The two dogs, a black lab and a golden lab, detect the smell of the virus on surfaces and sit to show when they sniffed it out. WBZ in Boston reports the dogs were trained using a detection program developed by Florida International University’s International Forensic Research Institute.
Back in Texas, in Harris County to be specific, folks are keeping a close watch on the surge in the rate of positive COVID cases, thanks to Omicron. County Judge Lina Hildalgo this week said Harris County has met three of four indicators that merit raising the threat level to Level 1: Red. Right now, it’s at Level 2: Orange.
So, what’s Level 1? Well, it means a severe and uncontrolled risk of infection, and when the county hits the Red mark, unvaccinated folks should stay away from others who are not part of their household, and stay home except to get essential stuff, such as food or medicine.
Oh, and wear masks, social distance, and avoid large gatherings. Kinda like what everyone should do, regardless of vaccination status.
The COVID pandemic could mean the return of measles, in a big way. The World Health Organization and the CDC tell us more than 22 million kids around the world missed their first dose of the measles vaccine in 2020. That’s three million more than the number of children who missed recommended doses in 2019, and it’s the largest increase in 20 years, if you are keeping score at home.
Measles is highly contagious, and we need about 95 percent a population vaccinated for community or herd immunity.
The Texas Department of State Health Services tells us between 8 percent and 29 percent of Texas school districts fall below the 95 percent level. State data collected by The Immunization Partnership show 29 percent of school districts in the panhandle fall below that threshold. North Texas and Central Texas school districts are close behind with 24 percent below the threshold. But four gold stars go to the folks in the Rio Grande Valley where only 8 percent fall below that 95 percent threshold.
The take-away here is for parents to make sure your kids are up-to-date with their measles shots and all of their recommended childhood vaccinations. And don’t forget the COVID vaccines and boosters.
That’s our TIP News for today, Jan. 6, 2022.
TIP News is a podcast production of The Immunization Partnership. We invite you to subscribe to our podcasts, Vaxx Voice, which deals with vaccines in general, and Vaxx to the Future, where we feature information specifically related to COVID-19 and its vaccines. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube. You can also find more information on our webpage, immunizeusa.org. For all of us at The Immunization Partnership, I’m John David Powell. Thanks for listening.