For the sake of the kids, take COVID security seriously

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This week, the CDC released data showing that from April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, more than 140,000 U.S. children under the age of 18 lost a parent or grandparent of a caregiver to custody of a child due to COVID-19 resulting in an orphanage or loss of a grandparent caregiver in 1 in 500 children in the United States.

This enormous loss of the parent figures who provide love and security and shape the future of our children hit minority groups hardest, with one of 168 Indian / Indigenous children in Alaska being affected, one in 310 black children, one in 412 Hispanic children, one in 612 Asian children and one in 753 white children.

These sad statistics reveal both the varied effects on different races and ethnic groups, as well as the wider, long-term consequences of our national failure to contain this epidemic. Each of these deaths, including those that affect our local residents, are tragic, preventable, and will cause inevitable long-term harm.

At Kitsap we have the lowest vaccination rates among people of childbearing age. Only 51 percent of 19 to 34 year olds are fully vaccinated, leaving around half of our youngest children at risk of losing a parent. We know that pregnant women are still at the highest risk of COVID and are four times more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit and 70 percent more likely to die than non-pregnant women. Nationwide, only 31 percent of pregnant women are fully vaccinated. Data showing that unvaccinated pregnant women are 70 times more likely to die than vaccinated women led the CDC to make a strong call for urgent action to expedite vaccination for pregnant or pregnant women.

We know the unequivocal recommendation of our local pregnant obstetrician Dr. Appreciate Megan Northup, who said of the vaccines, “And I wouldn’t think twice about getting them. I knew it was the best I could do to protect myself from infection. “

Our number one priority in the Kitsap Public Health District is initiating and completing vaccination for anyone who has not yet received it. This requires fighting the staggering amount of misinformation, much of which is fueled by “disinformation” specifically designed to undermine our national security and confuse the public.

No vaccine comes without its risks, which need to be recognized and addressed, no matter how rare they are. We know that the mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) can cause anaphylaxis, an immediate, severe, and occasionally fatal allergic reaction, at the rate of about five per million administered doses. Because of this, we observe people for 15-30 minutes after each vaccination.

We also know that these mRNA vaccines can cause myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that causes symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, and palpitations. We know this is very rare and peaks at 12.6 cases per million in people aged 12 to 39 after the second dose and far lower in all others. Most cases are mild and self-limiting, but always worrying. We also know that COVID infection causes myocarditis 4-10 times more often and more severely than the vaccines. Experts from the renowned New England Journal of Medicine conclude: “People with SARS-CoV-2 infection seemed to have a significantly higher risk of arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, pericarditis, cerebral haemorrhage and thrombocytopenia than those who did BNT162b2 vaccine. “

In Kitsap, unvaccinated people under 60 are 32 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID than those who are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated people in Alabama, Delaware, and Georgia are 75, 148 and 161 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people. Data from the Kitsap Public Health District shows the difference in deaths far exceeds even these impressive numbers.

Soon we will have approval to use these safe and effective vaccines for children ages 5-11. We continue to gather accurate scientific evidence that confirms the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines, which are the best way to keep us and our children safe and to minimize further harm from this devastating pandemic. Let’s do it for the kids – #VaxUpKitsap!

Gib Morrow, MD, MPH, is the health officer for the Kitsap Public Health District.

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