Halloween tips from the infectious disease doctor for parents
Speaker 1: (00:00)
On Monday, school districts around San Diego reported slightly higher absentee numbers. As some parents have kept their children at home to protest against the vaccination warrants, but as small groups protest against the warrants, other parents are counting the days until a vaccine for children under 12 years be approved. Health officials say emergency use approval will likely arrive in the next few weeks, but not in time for Halloween. So what should parents have in mind as we enter another year of vacation in the midst of a pandemic, Dr. Mark Sawyer, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital and UC San Diego , join me. Doctor Sorry. Welcome
Speaker 2: (00:46)
Back. It’s great to join you, Marie. Now we
Speaker 1: (00:49)
See the number of new COVID cases decline as new vaccination mandates come into effect. Do you see a cause and effect link there?
Speaker 2: (00:58)
Oh, I think there is a cause and effect that the warrants have been, have really worked and more and more people are getting vaccinated. We are reaching a level where there are not so many sensitive people. So, you know, we are, I, I hesitate to use the word collective immunity, but we’re really making a lot of progress.
Speaker 1: (01:18)
How do mandates work at Rady’s?
Speaker 2: (01:20)
Uh, all of Rady’s health workers need to be vaccinated. And if, for some reason, they are not vaccinated, then they are placed in non-patient care type jobs. Uh, during the pandemic
Speaker 1: (01:36)
Currently, vaccines are available for children 12 and older, but what is the latest vaccine approval for children under 12?
Speaker 2: (01:45)
Yeah, I think it’s happening right away. The FDA is meeting on Oct. 26 to review Pfizer’s data on this, uh, vaccinations in this younger age group. And from what I’ve heard about this data and after seeing the FDA in action during this COVID outbreak, I expect pretty quick approval of an emergency use authorization or the EUA for five to 11.
Speaker 1: (02:14)
It is a different form of the
Speaker 2: (02:16)
Vaccine? It’s the same size or construction, but it’s a lower dose. So the dose that was used in the five to eleven was a third of the dose that older teens and adults were getting.
Speaker 1: (02:31)
And will children need two injections?
Speaker 2: (02:33)
Yes, this is a two dose regimen, as it is in adults.
Speaker 1: (02:38)
What is the plan for how the injections will be given to children? Will we see large vaccination sites open again?
Speaker 2: (02:45)
I think there may be, but I have been wearing it since the start of the pandemic. We have a lot more vaccines in San Diego than we had, you know, in January and February, pharmacies are a place for school kids to get their shots. And of course, at their primary care physician’s office, pediatricians and family physicians in San Diego braced and prepared so that they could render scenes right in their offices.
Speaker 1: (03:13)
And what types of reactions can children have after the photo is taken?
Speaker 2: (03:17)
Well, we haven’t seen the full data for the younger ones yet, but what has been published so far suggests that they experience the same kind of side effects as older teens. So sore, arms, redness, where the injection was given. You may not feel well for 24 hours, but then you will return to normal.
Speaker 1: (03:34)
Should children plan to stay home after school the day after their vaccination,
Speaker 2: (03:40)
It’s really hard for me to predict that kids are tough enough and it takes a lot to discourage them. So maybe they can go on and go to school as usual.
Speaker 1: (03:49)
So, at present, of course, a child’s vaccine is not yet approved or does not hope to be approved in the next few weeks. And of course, Halloween is coming. So, would you let your kids or grandchildren for a ride or a treat this year?
Speaker 2: (04:01)
I think it’s a pretty safe activity. It’s outdoors, of course, and doesn’t require prolonged close contact with other people. Now that said, I’m referring to a few kids, siblings, for example, going around their neighborhood, not groups of 20 kids getting together in a herd.
Speaker 1: (04:22)
Children where COVID masks as a kind of under their masks are there, Halloween mask.
Speaker 2: (04:28)
Yes. Hopefully they already have masks in their costume. But I think in an outside setting like that, uh, if there’s not a lot of other kids in the, in their group that they probably can’t wear a mask.
Speaker 1: (04:42)
Dr Anthony Fowchee recently had some encouraging words for families regarding the celebration of Halloween this year, but had these words of warning for those who are not vaccinated,
Speaker 3: (04:53)
If you are not vaccinated again, think about it, you will add an extra level of protection to yourself, your children, your family and your community.
Speaker 1: (05:02)
So, for the younger ones who cannot be vaccinated at the moment, how much extra protection can they add?
Speaker 2: (05:11)
We know masks work. So in indoor environments, especially around people you don’t know, their immunization status masks can still be, should always be used. Good ventilation helps even in an indoor environment, away from other people, all the things we have been doing for the past year and a half that have also helped reduce the risk,
Speaker 1: (05:33)
You know, even with a vaccine for children five years and older, those very young children still will not be vaccinated. How should people with infants and toddlers plan this holiday season?
Speaker 2: (05:44)
Well the same precautions apply when trying to stay away from March groups of people unless you are outside. Uh, good. Wash your hands, you know, I wouldn’t pass the newborn baby to every member of the family to hold it. Um, because the more spacing you have the better off you are now, the vaccine is being studied until you are six months old. So in the next six months or so, we may start immunizing even younger children.
Speaker 1: (06:14)
There has been a huge amount of misinformation spread about the COVID vaccine. And I can only imagine that will increase further when young children can be vaccinated. Is there a way to counter this?
Speaker 2: (06:27)
Well, you know, health officials and public health officials try as much as they can to get accurate information out. I encourage people who have concerns about the vaccine to talk to their doctor. It is their best source of unbiased and unfiltered information. Um, and you know, there are definitely a lot of good sites on the internet to gather information, but there’s also a lot of misinformation out there. So I wouldn’t rely on the Internet to educate you on the risks and benefits of the vaccine. Talk to your doctor or your children’s store.
Speaker 1: (07:05)
I have spoken to you several times, several times during the pandemic and you seem very optimistic at this point. Is this how you feel, Dr. Sawyer?
Speaker 2: (07:13)
Yes. I think we are overcoming the worst. You know, we’ve had a spike in the last couple of months, we think a lot of it is because of the Delta variant. And there might be other variations coming next year, but we’ve learned how to wear masks. We have learned to space ourselves out. Vaccines have a big impact. So I think we’ll continue to have small spikes in activity at various times, but I’m not expecting a massive outbreak like we experienced last year.
Speaker 1: (07:46)
I spoke with Dr. Mark Sawyer of Rady Children’s Hospital and UC San Diego, Dr. Sawyer. Thank you. To thank
Speaker 2: (07:53)