COVID-19 Updates: Increased Immunity
Updated: Jan 13
With vaccines increasingly available to younger age groups, health care workers and public health officials hope the end of the pandemic is near. (Mat Napo/Unsplash)
Although COVID-19 cases are by no means dwindling, they’ve at least declined.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has reported an average of 72,000 new cases per day every week, 58 percent lower than at the pandemic’s peak. Unfortunately, the downward trajectory of COVID infections has recently plateaued, with the number of new cases hovering between 70,000 to 75,000 new cases per day every week. The plurality of these cases come from the Midwest, with Minnesota having the highest amount of average cases at 3,000 per day. Moreover, the death toll has risen slightly, with over 1,200 deaths reported per day.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert from Vanderbilt University, provided a theory for the pause in the steady decline of new COVID-19 cases. “This likely is the consequence of two phenomena,” he explained in an interview with Healthline. “First, the plateauing of vaccinations of previously unvaccinated persons and, second, the increasing tendency of people to attend crowded indoor events without wearing masks or social distancing.” Clearly, it is still extremely important for individuals to do what they can to boost their immunity. This includes getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene, and wearing face masks at social gatherings.
Although the COVID-19 situation appears grim, researchers continue to make breakthroughs in regards to increasing the population’s immunity. Children ages 5-11 years have been given the go ahead to receive a COVID vaccine, and people over 65 years old are now being encouraged to receive a booster shot.
The Vaccination of 5-11 Year Olds
After the CDC’s Advisory Committee unanimously voted in favor of vaccine use for children ages 5-11, Director Rochelle Walensky issued a recommendation that those belonging to the age group receive a low dose Pfizer vaccine. The statement was released on October 26, 2021, making 28 million children eligible for vaccine shots.
According to NPR, an estimated 900,000 elementary school aged children received their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 pediatric vaccine (one third of an adult dose) by the end of November 9, 2021. 700,000 more have scheduled appointments to receive the vaccine, which will enable them to develop strong immunity to the virus. To increase the efficiency of this wave of vaccinations, thousands of vaccination sites have been set up across the states, some in local hospitals and others in malls. In addition to protecting children from contracting the virus, the pediatric vaccine may go a long way in establishing a sense of normalcy within elementary schools.
Although the vaccination of children aged 5-11 has received a generally positive response — and is already rapidly underway — some families are unwilling to subject their young ones to the dose. A poll from Kaiser Family Foundation found that 30 percent of parents said they definitely wouldn’t vaccinate their children, with potential unknown long-term effects being the primary reason. Medical experts encourage wary parents to ask their family pediatricians and doctors to walk them through the decision.
The Booster Shot
Since the COVID-19 vaccines were first introduced, scientists have stated that “boosters” may be necessary in the future, especially for immunocompromised citizens. The booster shot, in essence, is another dose of a vaccine already received. Its purpose is to make immunity last longer, acting as an extra layer of protection. According to Yale Medicine, “Pfizer and Moderna boosters are now recommended for people 65 and up and younger adults with health problems, high-risk jobs, or other situations that put them at high risk of COVID-19 infection.” The CDC has reported that less than 40 percent of fully vaccinated adults belonging to the 65 and up age group in California have received the booster shot.
Although those ages 65 and over would benefit the most from the booster, this doesn’t limit the opportunity to receive an extra dosage to them only. In fact, all fully vaccinated adults in California are eligible to receive the COVID-19 booster. California Department of Public Health Director Tomás J. Aragón suggested that patients “self determine their risk of exposure.”
Given that millions of adults across the nation have access to additional immunization, there is reason to believe that rates of infection will slow.
Medical experts are optimistic about the spread of COVID-19 dying down. Many people have been vaccinated (and continue to get vaccinated), and many more have already had COVID. In short, there’s a lot of immunity in the population, and it will only continue to stockpile. The end of the pandemic might just be drawing near.
Sources & Further Reading
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/30/us-covid-cases-fall-to-less-than-half-of-peak-delta-levels.html https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/10/after-weeks-of-declines-us-covid-cases-have-leveled-off-at-a-high-level-the-ers-are-packed.html https://www.healthline.com/health-news/here-are-the-states-where-covid-19-is-increasing-2 https://www.npr.org/2021/11/10/1054137225/nearly-1-million-kids-ages-5-11-will-have-their-first-covid-shots-by-the-end-of- https://www.npr.org/2021/11/11/1054851431/california-adults-covid-vaccine-booster https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/covid-19-booster