WESTFIELD PUBLIC HEALTH WEEKLY BULLETIN
By Juanita Carnes FNP, Board of Health chair
The COVID-19 pandemic is now the most deadly pandemic in the history of the United State. In the 1918 flu pandemic, 675,000 lives were lost. In the last 18 months there have been 677,000 deaths.
It is baffling, with the advances in modern medicine, that this could happen. As a youth and an educated adult, I never thought we could lose so many lives to any disease, as read in history books. Vaccination continues to be the most important tool in finding an end to this terrible pandemic. Thankfully, scientists and researchers are hard at work to update and study vaccine use. Vaccines are so very important because deaths are still rising daily, with an average of 2,000 deaths a day in the United States. Globally, there are 4.7 million deaths.
In Westfield, we have 55 new confirmed cases. Zero new deaths (hurrah!). The percentage of unvaccinated cases is 80 percent. There are eight new pediatric case in the 0-11 age group and one in the 12-17, vaccine-eligible group.
More than half of U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated. This is clearly not good enough to stop the cases and deaths. The states with the lowest vaccine rates have the highest number of cases and deaths. COVID-19 cases continue to increase in children in the United States and now account for 26 percent of all cases.
There are many vaccine updates in the last week. The FDA authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster for those over 65 years old, those at high risk for developing COVID-19 and those with regular exposure, such as healthcare workers and teachers. Moderna has shown to be effective for at least five months after administration: 98.2 percent against severe disease and 93.2 percent against symptomatic infection. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine effectiveness actually increased over four months. Their clinical trial showed increased protection against COVID-19 and serious illness with a booster shot. These results have been turned over to the FDA for approval. Moderna and J&J booster shots should be available in a few weeks. Increased focus has been put on making vaccines more accessible globally. The U.S. pledged to donate more than one billion vaccine doses to developing countries.
This week, Pfizer announced positive results from clinical trials for 5- to 11-year-olds. The CEO of Pfizer stated, “We are eager to extend protection afforded by the vaccine to this younger population, subject to regulatory authorization.” This second clinical trial included 2,268 children aged 5-11. It was determined they will receive a smaller dosing of two 10-mcg vaccine doses, 21 days apart. Side effects appeared to be more mild for children than adults. Results showed it establishes a strong antibody response and is safe. It is estimated, with approval by the FDA, it should be available to children in about a month. 548 preventable child deaths are 548 too many.
We recommend anyone eligible for a booster to make an appointment. COVID-19 vaccine availability can be found at VaxFinder.mass.gov. You can also get your flu shot at the same time. Parents of 5- to 11-year-olds are advised to consult their pediatric providers if they have any questions or concerns, so these children can receive their vaccinations as soon as it is available.
Please continue to wear a mask in public, use hand sanitizer and socially distance to help protect yourself and others, especially those children ineligible to be vaccinated. Please consider getting yourself and other eligible individuals vaccinated. Please help spread the science and truth of vaccines and help eliminate the misinformation that is killing so many.
Take care of yourself and someone else.
Dedicated health department members have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, as well as Board of Health members Juanita Carnes, FNP, Margaret Doody, and Stan Strzempko, M.D.
We keep working to keep you safe.