Recent COVID-19 crest ebbed during October

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Update: This story was updated Nov. 4 to include comment from Lakes Regional Healthcare, following the CDC's endorsement of expanding emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer's to those age 5-11.

Emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer was extended Friday to include children ages 5 through 11. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision was endorsed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's Advisory Committee On Immunization Practices Nov. 2. Officials at Lakes Regional Healthcare said as of Nov. 2 local providers were waiting on the vaccine to arrive but, assuming the new vaccines are in hand soon, vaccinations for those age 5 and up should be an option at Dickinson County Public Health during next Wednesday's vaccination clinic.

Nationwide, the 5-11 demographic comprises about 39 percent of COVID cases reported in those under age 18, according to a statement from the FDA. It went on to say almost 700 individuals under 18 in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 as of Oct. 17 — 146 of them between ages 5 and 11.

Local active cases of the respiratory virus were reported at 143 on Oct. 8 — the highest they had been since April 2 — but numbers have since come down. The county's active cases dropped to 88 by Oct. 22 and again to 51 as of Oct. 29. However, another death related to COVID-19 was recorded in the county between the Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 reports, bringing that local total to 52 deaths. Vaccination rates in Dickinson County have changed by less than 3 percent in any given demographic since at least September. Local health officials said approximately 60.8 percent of county residents 12 and older were vaccinated as of Friday's report, with the 65-plus demographic still leading the pack at 85.2 percent.

The FDA said in a recent statement that, among children age 5 to 11, Pfizer's vaccine was found to be about 90.7 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, and the immune responses in that age group were comparable to those seen in the 16-25 demographic.

"The vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children age 5 through 11 who received the vaccine, and no serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study," the FDA statement said.

Data from Lakes Regional Healthcare shows 41 individuals with COVID-19 have been hospitalized since Sept. 1 — an increase of 11 unvaccinated individuals compared to last month's data, and an increase of five vaccinated individuals over the same period. The county has recorded 3,259 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March of 2020 — Friday's report from local health officials noted about 18.4 percent of county residents have now had the virus at some point. About 3,164 of the local recorded case are considered to have recovered. Friday's tally said about 34,880 COVID-19 tests have been given in Dickinson County so far — an average of approximately two tests for every county resident.

Positivity rates — both singe-week and double-week averages — dropped into the single digits as of Friday's report. The rates had stayed above 10 percent each week from at least Sept. 3 through Oct. 15. The Oct. 22 reported the seven-day average at 6.9 percent with the 14-day average at 11.4 percent. Friday's figures put the rates at 5.6 percent and 6.5 percent respectively.

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