ODH: Increase in COVID daily cases tempers optimism from pediatric vaccine, treatment developments

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Credit: DaytonDailyNews

While recent developments of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine and oral treatments are encouraging, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said that optimism should be tempered by the number of COVID cases in Ohio.

Over the last three days Ohio has reported the state’s highest daily cases numbers over the last three weeks. The increase came after weeks of a downward trend and an apparent plateau of cases.

Vanderhoff said the recent increase could be the result of the Delta variant as well as lower vaccination rates in some communities and cooler temperatures causing people to spend more time inside.

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With children ages 5 to 11 now able to get vaccinated, about 94% of Ohioans are eligible, he added. As of Thursday, 34,313 children ages 5 to 11 have started the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, according to ODH. Nearly 6.56 million Ohioans have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

When asked if parents of 11-year-olds should wait until their child turns 12 so they can get the non-pediatric vaccine, Vanerhoff said he does not see a reason to wait.

“The studies analyzing children’s immune response showed very clearly that an 11-year-old will have the same fabulous protection after receiving the lower pediatric dose, the 10 microgram dose, as a 12-year-old would when they get the larger 30 microgram dose,” he said. “Getting that protection on board as soon as possible is the most important step.”

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, he encouraged people to get vaccinated against coronavirus and receive booster or additional doses of the vaccine if eligible.

Vanderhoff also noted that oral treatments, including pills developed by Merck and Pfizer, were created to treat people who are already infected with COVID, whereas the vaccine helps protect people from getting sick. Both are expected to be considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks.

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“While these oral treatments added to IV monoclonal antibodies offer the promise of more tools in our treatment toolbox, they’ll be for treating sick people, unlike the vaccines which are designed to protect you from the beginning from becoming ill,” he said. “We that we expect that when these new drugs are first available supplies will be initially limited, targeted to those who are at the highest clinical risk.”

With winter months and peak flu season approaching, he also encouraged people to continue washing their hands frequently and wearing masks when needed.

To help protect kids from getting sick this winter, Dr. Sara Bode, director of Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s school-based health and mobile clinics, said parents and guardians should make sure their children are up-to-date on their routine vaccinations, as well as consider the flu and COVID vaccines.

Because some of the winter viruses can overlap and result in similar symptoms, getting vaccinated can help prevent children from contracting some more serious viruses and allows them to stay in school, she said.

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When planning winter holiday celebrations Vanderhoff encouraged people to consider if it’s appropriate to wear a mask, if the space has good ventilation or windows that can be opened and the number of people attending.

Bode added that anyone showing mild symptoms should monitor themselves before spending time without people outside their usual groups.

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