WEEKLY COVID UPDATE: November 2, 2021

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According to New York Times COVID data tracker, Benton County added 177 cases of COVID-19 to its case count. Since the start of the pandemic, the county has recorded 5,671 cases of the virus. The case report in recent weeks is down 12% from the weekly case report in mid-October. Hospitalizations across the county have also declined and appear to have peaked in September. In the past month, reported cases of the virus in Benton County have been highest among the 18-29 age group, followed by children 17 and under.

Oregon has reported at least 10,315 cases of the virus over the past week. This is a continuation of the downward trend of the third wave of the pandemic to hit the state, which is good news as the holiday season approaches. During the past six weeks, the Delta variant has made up 100% of all sequenced samples from infected patients.

Nationwide, the United States reported more than 407,000 cases last week. This is the first week of increased case reports in the past two months. Only 58% of the US population is currently fully vaccinated.

OHA announces milestone for vaccines

According to a declaration released Thursday by the Oregon Health Authority, 80% of Oregonians aged 18 or older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is promising, as the state’s vaccination rate dropped significantly over the summer, but has since increased. A sharp increase in the vaccination rate was observed at the beginning of October and was observed again as the beginning of November approached.

However, state experts are warning the public not to let their guard down. The current 80% single-dose receptor count does not include children under the age of 17, who are back to school and continue to transmit and become infected with COVID-19 at an alarming rate. Only 63% of people in Oregon are fully vaccinated, which is well below the percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated before herd immunity can be considered achieved.

Children aged 5 to 11 now eligible

The Food and Drug Administration has granted Pfizer emergency clearance for the use of its COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in young children aged 5 to 11. Monday, the White House announcement within a week, millions of doses of the vaccine will be shipped across the country, especially for children. In testing, Pfizer has found the vaccine to be 90% effective in this age group, at a dose that is one-third of the amount adults receive.

This is good news for some parents, as infection rates in children have skyrocketed since the return to in-person learning this fall. However, surveys of families show that many parents are reluctant to have their young children vaccinated against the virus.

According to a investigation Conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), one of the largest nonprofit groups of national health-focused journalists and scientists in the United States, vaccine reluctance is high among parents of young children. Only around 27% of parents surveyed by the KFF said they plan to have their child immunized right away. An equally large group (30%) of parents said they not immunize their young child.

The reasons reported for reluctance to vaccinate are vast, but one of the most commonly reported reasons is uncertainty about the long-term effects of the vaccine, especially the negative consequences for a child’s fertility. Concerns about long-term effects are likely the reason a large proportion of survey respondents (32-40%) said they plan to “wait and see” before getting their child vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccine and infertility

As the myth that a COVID-19 vaccine can negatively affect a person’s fertility continues to spread, doctors and medical researchers are doing their best to dispel the misinformation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) officially announcement that no research has shown any indication that fertility can be adversely affected by receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, and has encouraged parents to have their young children vaccinated. There has also been no evidence of infertility during clinical trials by any of the three pharmaceutical companies that are currently producing COVID vaccines.

Experts at the University of Missouri University Health Center discovered that the myth stems from the false belief that the vaccine could cause a recipient’s body to attack a protein in the placenta, called syncytin-1. This protein contains a small part of DNA similar to that of the spike protein found in the COVID virus, so the false link has been established between the vaccine and the negative consequences on fertility. However, the structure of syncytin-1 and the COVID virus is so different that it does not happen in reality.

Although health officials have found no evidence that the vaccine can cause infertility, it is known that getting sick with COVID-19 can have negative consequences on male and female fertility, including a decrease in the number of sperm in men and major complications (even the death of a fetus) for pregnant women. That’s why nationally recognized medical groups such as the AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging adults and children to get vaccinated once they are eligible.

This is a weekly column updating residents of Benton County on local, national and international news on the pandemic. If you would like to make suggestions for virus-related topics to cover, please email resources or ideas to[email protected].

By: Lauren Zatkos


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