SAN ANTONIO – As San Antonio’s COVID-19 risk level worsens, the FDA is expected to authorize emergency use for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The CDC is then likely to take up a vote on Saturday.
San Antonio was in the low-risk category for weeks, but now it is at medium risk, according to the Metropolitan Health District.
“We don’t notice it as much because a lot fewer people are in the hospital,” Dr. Junda Woo, medical director of Metro Health. “The cases where we were at are now at a level where it’s around 500 a day the last time I checked.”
Woo said the low hospitalizations are a good sign the vaccines are doing their job in keeping people who are infected less sick.
Since rolling out on December 15, 2020, almost 72% of the population has been vaccinated, and 39% of eligible people have been boosted.
“When you look at it by age group, the lowest percentage of people boosted is among younger people,” Woo said.
Children are falling behind when it comes to vaccinations.
Dr. Mandie Tibball Svatek, a pediatric hospitalist with University Health and associate professor of pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio, said it’s crucial for parents to protect their kids from severe cases of COVID-19 as well as residual effects like multisystem inflammatory syndrome, also known as MIS-C.
“Those that had been vaccinated, really the number of MIS-C cases is extremely low in comparison to those children that have not been vaccinated,” Tibball Svatek said.
Woo and Tibball Svatek agreed that the FDA giving the thumbs up to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years old would be an important step in fighting the spread of COVID-19.
“We want to stop the spread. And by stopping the spread, the first and foremost way to do that is to administer the vaccine to all of our population, including our young,” Tibball Svatek said.
In our community, there’s a mixed reaction when it comes to vaccinating our youngest.
“I think if it’s FDA approved, it’s OK,” said Amore Dejournet.
“For the parents that wanted to get their kids vaccinated, yeah, I think it’s a good idea for them. But I mean, personally, I wouldn’t. I don’t like it,” said Joe Martinez.
White House officials said vaccines should be ready to roll out as soon as next week.
“When a vaccine is approved by the CDC, we urge people to get that one and the other vaccines that people have been putting off at their pediatrician’s office. The pediatricians will be happy to see you back,” Woo said.
The vaccine dosage for children is different than it is for adults.
“With the Moderna vaccine, it’s about a quarter of the dose of what we’re we were administering for adults. For the Pfizer vaccine, we’re looking at a dose, probably about a 10th of the dose, and that’s the one where you’re having to get the three doses as opposed to the Moderna where you get the two doses,” Tibball Svatek said.
Right now, the efficacies of each vaccine vary by age.
“Their current efficacy, you know, varies on their age group population. So six months, you know, you’re looking at two years, you’re looking at 51% efficacy versus the 2 to 5 years, which you’re looking at 37% efficacy. And so that’s not even tying in as they start to look at that third dose,” Tibball Svatek said.