By Jondi Gumz
The White House plans to make 10 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine available for children under 5, once regulators grant emergency use authorization.
Some parents are eager for the federal authorization, but not all.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports 18% of parents of children under 5 plan to vaccinate them immediately, with 38% planning to wait to see if there are side effects, 27% with no plans to use the Pfizer product on their children, and 11% saying thy would do so only if required for school or day care.
Parents were surveyed in April, when Omicron subvariants began increasing cases.
Among parent concerns: Long-term effects.
Covid has claimed the lives of many elders, those 85 and older with pre-existing medical conditions and it’s easy for kids to catch Covid, especially the highly contagious Omicron subvariants, but deaths of children are few and far between.
In 46 states plus Puerto Rico, 0.00%-0.02% of all child Covid cases resulted in death, the American Association of Pediatrics reported in June.
Could it be that young children represent an untapped windfall for the drug-makers?
It all depends on whether these vaccines are added to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine schedule for children. See www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/child-adolescent.html
The highly contagious coronavirus Omicron subvariants have pushed up case numbers in California– but Santa Cruz County cases are on a rollercoaster, 1,715 on May 23 then 1,472 on May 26 and 1,705 on June 13.
This spring, the biggest spurt, May 9, after Mother’s Day, was 182 cases, and 179 on June 6 — graduation? — compared to 1,312 on Jan. 20.
On Tuesday, the state reports 24 people hospitalized with Covid, including one in intensive care, in Santa Cruz County.
The county posted two more deaths, one over 85 and one between age 75 and 84, both having medical conditions. One had been vaccinated and boosted.
Santa Cruz County updates the numbers on Mondays and Thursdays, but many people testing at home are not required so positive or negative home tests are not included in county figures.
Santa Cruz County along with much of California is rated “medium” transmission by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on its COVID tracking map. Hotspots are Sacramento County, Placer and El Dorado, all rated high risk.
Subvariants of omicron (and waning immunity from vaccines) are suspected to be behind the latest wave of cases.
On Tuesday the CDC said BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants are estimated to make up about 8.3% and 13.3% of the coronavirus variants in the U.S.
Hospitalizations from Omicron had peaked in January, then plummeted and have been rising albeit slowly.
The state Department of Public Health reports test positivity, 23% in January, has ticked up from 1.7% to 9.1% and hospitalizations — 20,000 in January —dropped to 950 before rising to 2,700.
Test to Treat
Santa Cruz County offers “Test to Treat” sites, including the three OptumServe testing sites, open to anyone regardless of insurance or documentation status. Visit https://lhi.care/covidtesting/ and make an appointment. The closest are Felton library and the Santa Cruz County Governmental Center in Santa Cruz.
Statewide, Covid test positivity is 9.1 % , up from 6.6.% — and it’s 12.25% among Santa Cruz County students, according to the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.
For those who test positive and are at risk of severe illness, the CDC recommends asking your doctor for a prescription for Paxlovid, pills developed by Pfizer for higher risk individuals age 12 or older and given emergency use authorization by the FDA in December. Lagevrio, produced by Merck, also got emergency use authorization for mild to moderate Covid.
On May 17, the FDA announced kids age 5 through 11 are eligible for a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot five months after the first. The goal is to prevent severe case among children this age.
So far, the new subvariants are very easy to spread but do not seem as dangerous as Delta.
There are more people hospitalized — 2,200 in California, double from where it was — but ICU admissions are rising much more slowly, and the number of deaths per day is trending down.
Santa Cruz County, which had 15 people hospitalized with Covid, now has 7, one in intensive care.
With 52,000+ county residents having had the infection, natural immunity may be a factor.
The CDC estimates almost 60 percent of the populace — including 76% percent of children over age 5 — have had Omicron or another coronavirus variant.
Lawsuit vs. State
California Parents United, founded by Carmel attorney Tracy Henderson, contends the State Department of Public Health guidance for schools is non-binding because the agency did not follow the rule-making process required by the Administrative Procedures Act.
If a child is refused in-pers0n instruction, Henderson advises filing a tort claim. Details at www.californiaparentsunited.org/call2action
Aptos is gearing up for the World’s Shortest Parade on July 4 in Aptos Village.
The city of Scotts Valley is seeking help to host its Independence Day parade and celebration at Skypark a day early, Sunday, July 3, with a fireworks celebration that night.
Capitola’s Twilight Concerts on Wednesday nights began June 15.
Starting June 16, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk brings back live music Thursdays on the Colonnade, with Friday night movies starting June 17.
Amy Bohn of Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids in Newbury Park, which filed six lawsuits against vaccine mandates, asks California residents to keep watching Covid bills although five were shelved or pulled.
Sometimes measures that stall come back in a budget trailer bill — which avoids public hearings. Covid bills that remain active include:
SB 866: To allow children 12 and older to get Covid vaccines without parental consent. Passed June 1 by Senate, going to Assembly floor.
AB 1419: To prohibit the representative of a minor from inspecting the minor’s patient record when the records relate to medical care related to the prevention or treatment of pregnancy. Passed by Senate. This bill goes with SB 866.
SB 1184: To authorize a health care provider or plan to disclose your child’s medical information to a school-linked services coordinator without parent consent. Passed by Senate. In Assembly.
SB 1479: To mandate Covid testing plans at schools. Passed by Senate. Assembly Health Committee hearing June 14.
AB 1797: To create a state immunization tracking system and give schools and other entities access to all vaccine records. Passed by Assembly. Senate Health Committee hearing June 22.
AB 2098: To classify a physician or surgeon disseminating or promoting misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19 as unprofessional conduct and grounds for discipline. This is supported by Sen. Richard Pan, a physician, and opposed by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Passed by Assembly. In Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Commitee
To track bills, see https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov
With SB 871 pulled by the author, Gov. Newsom is delaying plans to mandate Covid vaccine for school children until July 2023.
New workplace rules adopted in California require unvaccinated and vaccinated workers to be treated the same; no mask mandate for the unvaccinated. Employees testing positive can return to work masked five days later.
Omicron has a shorter incubation period then the early coronavirus variants.
Airline Mask Policy
If you’re flying Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, or United, masks are optional. Masks may be required at airports. For airlines elsewhere, check www.afar.com/magazine/which-airlines-require-masks
Airline masks became optional in the U.S. after a federal judge in Florida on April 18 voided the mask mandate ordered by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for airlines, trains and buses on Feb. 3, 2021.
The Justice Department appealed at the CDC’s request but did not ask for a stay, which would have reinstated the mandate.
In a 48-page document filed Tuesday in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department contends argues the masking order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention i “falls easily within the CDC’s statutory authority.”
The brief said, “None of the district court’s quarrels with the CDC order comes close to showing that the CDC has acted outside the ‘zone of reasonableness.”
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled in favor of Health Freedom Defense Fund and airline travelers Ana Carolina Daza and Sarah Pope.
Mizzelle wrote that historically, public health has been regulated at the state level, and the 1944 law on which the mask order was based has no clear language that Congress intended the CDC to take over.
To read Mizzelle’s ruling see https://ecf.flmd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2021-01693-53-8-cv
Santa Cruz County, which updates its dashboard on Monday and Thursday, reports 1,705 active cases, on the rise but down from the January peak of 10,000.
Omicron Less Deadly
The Omicron variants are less deadly than the Delta variant, which raged in 2021.
Santa Cruz County reported 39 Covid deaths after Omicron, compared to 225 as of Dec. 15, before Omicron.
One statistic is similar: 79% to 81% of those who died had medical conditions.
Why do people fear Omnicron?
They may have a medical condition (diabetes, obesity, asthma, high blood pressure).
Half of Americans do, so they are at higher risk for severe Covid illness.
So are people 85 and older.
California reports 83.7% of residents age 5 and up have had at least one shot.
On the CDC Covid tracker, Santa Cruz County reports 91.2% of residents age 5 and up have at least one shot and 83.2% fully vaccinated.
Pajaro Valley Schools
The Pajaro Valley Unified School District, where the school year has ended, reports 29 active student cases and 20 staff cases in June. Aptos High has two student cases and 5 staff cases. Aptos Junior High has 5 student cases and zero staff cases. Mar Vista Elementary has 1 student cases and zero staff cases. Rio Del Mar Elementary and Valencia have zero cases.
Santa Cruz County Office of Education, with Inspire Diagnostics, has provided 532,400 tests.
Cases in local schools peaked at 4,407 on Jan. 27, dropped to 44 on April 1, rose to 1,025 on May 23 and dropped to 442 on June 11. The 14-day positivity rate, 12.25% on January, dropped to .79%, then rose to 5.4% and 11.38%.
Fully vaccinated means having two shots (Pfizer or Moderna) or one Johnson & Johnson shot. All were developed for the initial Wuhan Covid-19 strain.
For Omicron, a booster shot is needed after the Pfizer vaccine, because protection against hospitalization wanes after three months, a Kaiser Permanente study of 11,000 hospital admissions and emergency room visits found.
Adverse Effects Database
In a 2022 report in the Journal of American Medical Association online, Dr. Matthew Oster of the CDC reported the government’s VAERS database received 1,991 reports of myocarditis after one dose of mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine and 1,626 met the CDC’s definition for probable or confirmed myocarditis.
Oster’s conclusion: “The risk of myocarditis after receiving mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines was increased across multiple age and sex strata and was highest after the second vaccination dose in adolescent males and young men. This risk should be considered.”
Public health officials say the scientific consensus is that Covid vaccines are safe, but some are skeptical about relying on science from drug-makers, which saw profits rise in 2021. They point to the U.S. government database, https://vaers.hhs.gov/, where health care providers are to report adverse events after a vaccine.
The reporting site was created after Congress passed a law in 1986 protecting vaccine manufacturers from civil personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits resulting from vaccine injuries.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar invoked the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, a 2005 law allowing him to provide legal protection to companies making or distributing critical medical supplies such as vaccines unless there’s “willful misconduct” by the company. This protection lasts until 2024.
The VAERS database lists reports of injuries after a vaccine, but there’s been no follow-up study to evaluate if the injury was cuased by a vaccine.
Renz Law, representing military whistleblowers, sued the federal government to lift the vaccine mandate for military personnel and appeals for passage of legislation repealing immunity for vaccine manufacturers.
“If vaccines are truly safe and effective no one should oppose this,” the lawsuit reads.
After mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were mandated for the military in 2021, cases of heart attack, pulmonary embolism, cancers, and myocarditis spiked dramatically, according to the Defense Military Epidemiological Database queries by the whistleblowers.
The Department of Defense’s responded that a glitch in the database affected the data from 2016-2020.
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart, which can lead to clots, a stroke or heart attack.
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education offers drive-though testing for students, staff and families at:
Cabrillo College, Aptos, Parking Lot K, Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Santa Cruz County Office of Education, 399 Encinal St., Santa Cruz, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Booster shots: https://myturn.ca.gov/
Vaccine providers: www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirusvaccine.
Local information: www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus or (831) 454-4242 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Total COVID cases: 1,705
COVID Deaths: 264
As of June 13
85 and older: 114 • 75-84: 62 • 65-74: 46 • 60-64: 15 • 55-59: 4 • 45-54: 10 • 35-44: 8 • 25-34: 5
Yes: 214 • No: 50
White 152 • Latinx 89 • Asian 16 • Black 3 • Amer Indian 1 • Hawaiian 1 • Another 2
Men: 136 • Women: 128
At facility for aged: 116 • Not at a facility: 148