According to CDC, children are making up a larger proportion of Covid-19 cases now

New strategy targets 12 to 15-year-olds
Originally Published: 12 MAY 21 02:29 ET
Updated: 12 MAY 21 13:48 ET

(CNN) — With a new demographic now eligible for Covid-19 vaccines, public health officials hoping to fight variants will have to adjust their strategy to convince 12 to 15-year-olds and their parents to sign up for inoculations.

“Here we have to speak not only to the patient, the adolescent, but also their parents and guardians to make the case simultaneously to both,” Dr. Nirav Shah, president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said Tuesday. “It’s just an added nuance, it’s not any more difficult, it’s just something we’ve got to think through and get right.”

The US Food and Drug Administration’s decided Monday to expand the emergency use authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to adolescents as young as 12. The rollout to this new age group is likely to come in earnest on Thursday.

The CDC’s adviser, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), is holding an emergency meeting to discuss and vote on it Wednesday. That advice then goes CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who is very likely to give the go-ahead within hours.

Though young people are less likely to be seriously affected by Covid-19, they can still be infected and spread it to others. The CDC estimates more than 22 million children age 5 to 17 have been infected with coronavirus, CDC’s Dr. Sara Oliver said Wednesday.

With so many older people vaccinated, children and teens are starting to make up a larger proportion of coronavirus cases now than earlier in the epidemic.

“In April, 9% of Covid-19 cases were aged 12-17 years, which actually represents a larger proportion of cases than adults 65 and older,” Oliver told the ACIP meeting.

To get adolescents and their parents onboard, primary care providers, pediatricians and family medicine physicians who are speaking with parents and the kids will be critical, Shah said.

The expansion comes as public health officials are urging Americans to be inoculated before variants resistant to vaccinations spread and cause another surge later in the year.

Already, more than 72% of coronavirus genetic sequences in the US are the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom — one that is known to be more transmissible than its predecessor, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in an interview released Tuesday.

She also made an appeal to mothers to get families vaccinated.

“Mother to mother, I am asking you to do everything you can to vaccinate those people who are eligible in your household — yourself, as well as your children,” Walensky said in an event hosted by Scary Mommy. “Moms are great at getting things done. That’s what we do.”

California to effectively end mask mandate next month

With more and more people becoming vaccinated, the plans for a return to normal are becoming clearer.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will effectively end mask mandates next month when the state plans to fully reopen after more than a year of Covid-19 restrictions.

In an on-camera interview with KTTV Los Angeles reporter Elex Michaelson posted on Twitter, the governor was asked, “Are we looking at masks after June 15?”

“No. Only in those settings that are indoor — only in those massively large settings where people around the world, not just around the country, are convening, and when people are mixing in real dense spaces,” Newsom replied. “Otherwise, we’ll make guidance recommendations, but no mandates and no restrictions on businesses large and small.”

California currently requires the use of masks in indoor settings outside of one’s home, including on public transportation, regardless of vaccination status. Fully vaccinated people, however, are not required to wear masks outdoors, except when attending crowded events.

Last month, state health officials announced the June 15 target date to fully reopen the state amid falling Covid-19 infection rates and low hospitalizations, shelving its color-coded tier system that dictates re-opening by county based on infection rates.

California’s mask mandate, however, would remain in place at least “in the short run,” Newsom said at the time.

Spokespersons for the governor’s office and California Department of Public Health did not respond to CNN requests for comment Wednesday.

About 52% of California’s population has had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including 89% of those over age 65, according to CDC data. After a startling outbreak in December and January, the state has had a 7-day average of less than 2,000 new daily coronavirus cases for the past two weeks.

‘I can go out more instead of just staying home and doing nothing’

Though the CDC has not fully signed off on vaccinating 12- to 15-year-olds, some locations began vaccinating the young teens on Tuesday.

Doctors already have the vaccine on hand, and the CDC’s approval is a foregone conclusion. This is an area of medical practice regulated by states, but because the vaccine is already authorized and in offices, there is little to stop medical professionals from exercising their own judgment.

Jacob Laney, 14, was in line at a Decatur, Georgia, vaccine site early Tuesday in hopes of getting the vaccine early.

“My friend got Covid and it looked really bad, and I just did not want to get it,” he told CNN. Once he gets both doses of Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine, “I think I’ll be less scared of getting it and less scared of having issues with Covid-19,” he said.

Cameron Carrion, a 14-year-old whose mother watched CNN’s interview with Jacob and then drove to the same vaccine site, said he felt good about getting the shot.

“I feel like it’s better that I got it because I can go out more instead of just staying home and doing nothing,” he said.

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