RVA Parenting: What to know about kids and COVID-19 this week

Updated: Apr. 8, 2021 at 1:00 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - This week, we’ve seen a surge of information about kids and COVID-19. Everything from new vaccine info, to new variant info, and how that may impact your children.

Much of the conversation surrounding COVID-19 has been about how kids aren’t as at risk. However, that may be changing.

Michael Osterholm, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, talked about the new B.1.1.7 variant. Osterholm called the variant ‘a brand new ball game’.

“It affects kids very readily. Unlike the other strains of the virus, we didn’t see kids under 8th grade get infected very often. Or they were not frequently very ill. They did not transmit to the rest of the community,” Osterholm said. “That’s why I was one of those people pushing in-person learning. B.1.1.7 turns that on its head.”

We reached out to the health department to ask about cases in Central Virginia and statewide. According to the CDC website, there are 349 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant as of April 8th.

According to the Virginia Health Department, looking at data up to April 5 of this year, a total of 262 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been identified in Virginia. But officials say the true number of cases is likely to be higher as not all COVID-19 positive samples undergo the test used to identify variants.

At least 30% of the B.1.1.7 variant reported to the Health Department are in persons 20 years of age and younger.

So far, vaccines or a prior COVID infection appear to protect you against the B.1.1.7 variant. We’re told local health districts have been providing public health guidance to schools throughout the pandemic.

VDH and VDOE have worked closely together on reopening guidelines.

But there was no comment as to whether this variant was changing the conversation about reopening schools.

The director of the CDC suggested youth sports could be contributing to the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Rochelle Wolensky went so far as to say youth sports and extracurriculars should be limited.

We have seen experts suggest a few adjustments if you are going to participate. Move things outdoors, and decrease the size of crowds, no celebrations, no hugging.

Low contact practices and drills are safer than big events. On the vaccine front, progress on the efforts to create vaccines for kids.

With Pfizer announcing its vaccine is effective in children ages 12-15, some health experts say vaccines could be available to protect against the virus during the summer sports season and summer camps season. Pfizer says the COVID-19 vaccine is 100 percent effective in children ages 12 to 15.

They are hoping to get approval by May.

But, the Department of Health says if shots are approved for younger kids, they will work with local pediatric offices.

You should know, there is an issue with the state scheduler system; Only Pfizer is approved for under 18.

But when you schedule, the app can’t filter by vaccine type, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

So make sure you’re paying close attention when you schedule your child’s vaccination.

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