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Weekly Roundup for Nov. 5, 2021

Published:  November 5, 2021

As the Delta surge ebbs, county health officials are planning for a transition to fewer restrictions, including when the indoor mask mandate will be lifted, perhaps by early January. New cases (the seven-day average) have dropped from 34 per 100,000 residents on Aug. 9 to 10.2 per 100,000 residents. Hospitalizations also have fallen significantly since the peak of this surge.

Importantly, our vaccination rate is slowly but steadily increasing as we inch closer to 80 percent of our eligible population being fully vaccinated. This remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated, with the unvaccinated accounting for most hospitalizations and deaths. Health officials continue to warn that the unvaccinated are putting themselves and others at risk by choosing not to get vaccinated.

The next critical phase of the pandemic begins now that the Pfizer pediatric vaccine has been approved by federal regulators. More than 37,000 children ages 5 to 11 in Sonoma County will be eligible to receive their first dose through primary care physicians, local pharmacies or county-sponsored school-based clinics beginning the week of Nov. 8.

Read the full press release here:
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/Press-Releases/Vaccinations-of-5--to-11-year-olds-to-begin-in-Sonoma-County-during-week-of-Nov-8/

This week’s digest provides helpful and important updates on the following:

  1. Vaccine for children ages 5-11 authorized by FDA and CDC
  2. Updated guidance on trips for school and youth sports
  3. County issues guidance for holiday gatherings, travel
  4. Upcoming testing & vaccine opportunities
  5. COVID-19 community resources & support
  6. Other news items from County of Sonoma
  7. Emergency preparedness tips & resources

Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11 Authorized by FDA and CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday formally endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, clearing the way for safe vaccination of the youngest age group yet. The younger children will receive one-third of the dose authorized for those 12 and older, delivered by smaller needles and stored in smaller vials than adult doses.

Doses began shipping within minutes of the FDA’s authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, with fifteen million doses now on the way to states for distribution.

Key information:

  • The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine to receive emergency use authorization so far for those ages 5 to 11.
  • A second dose will be necessary, three weeks after the first.
  • The FDA and CDC have determined these vaccines are safe for children, ages 5 to 11.
  • About 28 million U.S. children will be eligible for the vaccine, including 37,000 in Sonoma County.
  • The United States has purchased 65 million doses of the pediatric vaccine. They will be shipped in small packages of 100 doses each to allow more providers to administer them.
  • Tens of thousands of children have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 657 have died, according to data collected by the CDC.
  • Some children who are infected may develop long COVID, remaining ill for months, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which has affected at least 5,200 children in the U.S.

Parents are encouraged to have their children vaccinated at clinics planned for school sites, local pharmacies or the offices of their primary care physicians. Sonoma County’s doctors, health care clinics, schools, pharmacies and public health leaders are working together to educate families about the vaccine and to ensure vaccines are distributed as quickly, safely and equitably as possible.

In Sonoma County, consent forms will be required if the child is not with a parent or guardian:

English:
https://www.scoe.org/blog_files/COVID%20Vaccine%20Informed%20Consent%20%28Fillable%29.pdf

Spanish:
https://www.scoe.org/blog_files/COVID%20Vaccine%20Informed%20Consent%20%28FINAL%29_Spanish%20%281%29.pdf

Learn more from the Sonoma County Office of Education:
https://www.scoe.org/pub/htdocs/school_staff_immunization.html

Sutter Health pediatrician Dr. Brian Prystowsky explains the benefits of the pediatric vaccine:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDr8-6cyY20

State of California videos on COVID-19 vaccine safety, including the pediatric vaccine:
https://www.youtube.com/user/CAPublicHealth/videos

New Guidance on Trips for School and Youth Sports

The county has updated its guidance regarding travel for school and youth sports based on evidence that fully vaccinated individuals can safely participate in many activities that they did before the pandemic. Fully vaccinated individuals are less likely to get and spread COVID-19 and can now travel at low risk to themselves within the United States.

School officials and youth sports organizations planning overnight group trips and excursions for fully vaccinated adults and students should still consider implementing strategies to encourage behaviors that reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 infection. All participants, including students, athletes, teachers, coaches, chaperones, and volunteers should be verified as fully vaccinated.

In addition, students, staff, and volunteers must wear masks indoors and in shared vehicles while on field trips and travel to sporting events and competitions with the following exceptions:

  • The organizer (teacher, coach) has verified that all individuals present are fully vaccinated.
  • There are no more than 100 individuals present, and the group present gathers on a regular basis (e.g., classroom, sports team).
  • The host or organizer can control access to the setting, and the setting is not open to the public or others not in the class or team cohort.

For additional requirements, please see the county’s Oct. 21 amended health order:
https://socoemergency.org/amendment-no-1-to-the-order-of-the-health-officer-of-the-county-of-sonoma-c19-25/

There have been 690 COVID-19 cases in county schools since classes started in August. Of these cases, 621 are students and 69 are staff members.

View data on Sonoma County school cases online here:
https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/1edbb41952a8417385652279305e878d/page/page_44/?draft=true

New Guidance Issued for Holiday Gatherings & Travel

People planning to travel and attend gatherings over the holidays should make sure they have proper documents required by some destinations, airlines and events to prove their vaccination or testing status. According to guidance from the CDC, people who are not vaccinated should avoid travel and holiday gatherings.

Unvaccinated people who want to gather for Thanksgiving should get immunized immediately. It takes two weeks to become fully protected after receiving the single-dose J&J/Janssen vaccine or a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. Getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect you, your family and your friends from becoming infected with COVID-19 and avoid another surge in cases like we witnessed last year over the holidays.

Obtain a digital copy of your California vaccine record here:
https://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/

If you have lost your vaccine card and your digital record gives you an error, ask your primary care provider to provide you with a copy of your immunization record.

Not all COVID-19 test providers are approved for travel testing or can guarantee test results in time for your travel or event. Before scheduling your test, check with your test provider to see if they meet the required test result certification and timelines for your travel, destination or event.

Upcoming Opportunities for Testing, Vaccination & Boosters

The county’s top priority remains getting first and second doses administered to get more people fully vaccinated and protected, even with booster shots approved for certain groups. More than 371,000 residents have received at least one dose. As of Monday, 34,587 individuals have received a vaccine booster shot, with 68 percent (23,410) being over the age of 65. Forty percent of the 57,875 individuals over age 65 who are currently eligible for a vaccine booster dose have received their shot.

The County’s vaccine clinics webpage is continually updated to make it easier to see what clinics are operating each day, where they are located and how to make an appointment. Residents who need help making a vaccination or testing appointment may contact the Sonoma County Testing and Vaccine hotline at 707-565-4667 ( 4701 in Spanish).

View the vaccine clinics and appointment page here:
https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/vaccine-information/clinics/

If you have symptoms or have had a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, you should be tested regardless of your vaccination status. Appointments are strongly recommended as walk-ins are limited.

Quarantine if you have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a total of 15 minutes over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19, unless fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms.

For details or appointments at COVID-19 testing clinics, including a pop-up testing calendar, please visit:
https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/testing-and-tracing/

Press release on COVID-19 booster shots, mix-and-match boosters:
https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/Press-Releases/Sonoma-County-issues-guidance-on-COVID-19-booster-shots--mix-and-match-boosters/

COVID-19 Community Resources and Support

Other County of Sonoma News

Contact Information

Paul Gullixson
Communications Manager
County Administrator's Office
County of Sonoma
Address
575 Administration Drive
Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.464665, -122.725235