Hot Topics in Infection Prevention: Vaccinate Children, Take Care Over the Holidays

The availability of pediatric vaccines is being presented as a way to return to some sense of normal after two years of a pandemic.

Will Vaccinated Children Spell the End of COVID-19?

Approval for vaccines in children aged 5-11 has occurred. The Pfizer vaccine has just gained authorization and approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and recommendation from Rochelle Walensky, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It became available over the weekend with a reduced dose of two 10-microgram shots given 21-days apart. As reported by CIDRAP, Walensky noted that “we have second graders who have never known a normal school year, middle schoolers who have missed out on sports. In the nearly 12 months since this group approved the use of vaccines in those 16 and older, we have been wondering when children vaccines were approved for younger children.”

The availability of pediatric vaccines is also being presented as a way to return to some sense of normal after two years of a pandemic. Over 6.4 million children have been infected with COVID-19 and over 101,000 cases occurred in the week from October 21 to 28. This is especially concerning as cases are on the rise across the United States—up in 23 states as 72,754 new cases were reported. President Biden has also noted that vaccine mandate for private-sector workers will begin January 4.

If you’re interested in a review of college football and COVID-19 transmission, check out this new article within JAMA regarding player contact events. Such interactions and the analysis for transmission-based studies are especially interesting in the world of health care and infection prevention and control. The authors note that “between September 26 and December 19, 2020, 1190 college football athletes had 109,762 opposing-player interactions over 64 SEC regular season games. Interactions were fleeting (median length, 6 seconds [range, 1-380 seconds]), and most (104 274 [95%]) were briefer than 26 seconds.”

In terms of treatment, Britain has just approved the first COVID-19 antiviral pill for treatment, Reuters reports. “Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recommended the drug, molnupiravir, for use in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 and at least one risk factor for developing severe illness, such as obesity, older age diabetes, and heart disease. It will be administered as soon as possible following a positive COVID-19 test and within 5 days of the onset of symptoms, the regulator said, citing clinical data.”

Stay Wary of COVID-19 Over the Holidays

Giving thought to this rather unknown holiday season—now is the time to have conversations with staff about what can increase or decrease risk of COVID-19 during the holidays. These are especially important as more are getting boosters but may not necessarily realize that doesn’t suddenly make them Superman. As Katherine Wu, MD, noted in The Atlantic, “for months, the CDC has been updating its hefty page on what people can do once they’re fully vaccinated (which, by the way, is still defined as two weeks after the second Pfizer or Moderna dose, or two weeks after the one-and-done Johnson & Johnson). But no such instruction manual exists for the pre-to-post-boost transition, which some 120 million Americans will be eligible to make in the next few months. I asked the CDC if those recommendations might appear soon. ‘Not at this time,’ Kristen Nordlund, an agency spokesperson, told me in an email. For now, ‘people who have received a booster should continue to follow CDC’s fully vaccinated guidance.’ (Nordlund did clarify that people shouldn’t consider themselves boosted until two weeks post-jab. They just aren’t being told to, you know, behave any differently at that point.)”