FDA authorizes 1st COVID-19 shots for kids under 5
U.S. regulators on Friday authorized the first COVID-19 shots for infants and preschoolers, paving the way for vaccinations to begin next week. (June 17)
Summer activities are returning to normal in Johnson County, but COVID-19 continues to pose a threat, local health officials warn.
While cases are currently declining, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to list Johnson County at a high COVID-19 community level.
Currently at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, there are 29 individuals with COVID-19 being treated. Jennifer Brown, media coordinator for UIHC, wrote in an email to the Press-Citizen that the hospital is continuing to keep a close eye on COVID-19 cases throughout the county.
While the number of inpatients is not necessarily low, it is controllable for the hospital.
“The number is fairly high — an indication that COVID-19 is still prevalent in our community. However, this number of patients is still very manageable for the hospital,” Brown wrote in an email to the Press-Citizen. “For comparison, we were close to 70 inpatients with COVID-19 back in late January 2022, and as low as three in late April. Our highest number of COVID inpatients during the pandemic was over 90 in November 2020.”
Spring surge in cases has abated in Johnson County
Johnson County is one of two in Iowa listed as seeing high levels of COVID-19. Winneshiek County is the other.
After an uptick in local cases beginning in March, Sam Jarvis, the Johnson County community health division manager, said the increase has hit its peak.
“We started to notice in March heading into April and May that our cases increased by about 50 to 100 every seven days. And so we saw an increase, but it wasn’t like other previous surges that we’ve seen where it’s been very dramatic and quickly,” Jarvis said. “We’ve seen that fully uptick and we crested to about 600-some cases reported to us in the seven-day period end of May, early June.”
The county has seen cases rise and fall in the past two years, each time learning something new about COVID-19 and its surges and with cooperation from the community, Jarvis said.
Additionally, the community’s effort to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has helped keep case numbers low, Jarvis said. According to the CDC, 73.2% of Johnson County residents are fully vaccinated, and 80% have received at least one dose.
‘They’ve been waiting for quite a while’: COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 and younger arrive
Along with case numbers dropping, Jarvis said he is excited for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 and younger. Last week, those vaccines were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC. Tuesday was the first day young children could be vaccinated.
“Johnson County Public Health and our hospital partners, Mercy and UIHC, have been coordinating and preparing for pediatric vaccine. We’ve checked in with some of our pharmacy partners as well, who will be providing those. And so at this moment, we’re hopeful that we’ll have a good amount of capacity for parents and guardians to be able to get their kiddos vaccinated, hopefully soon,” Jarvis said.
“We know that there’s a lot of parents and guardians waiting, and they’ve been waiting for quite a while to be able to get the necessary protection for their kids.”
While case numbers are dropping, Jarvis said it’s still important to think about the community and keeping those around you safe.
“We’re at a point now where severity is different, but we still want to be cognizant that there are other folks that are still at-risk,” Jarvis said. “And notably, we do have a portion of our population that has not been vaccinated yet, which is those who are primarily 5 and younger.”
Jarvis added that, despite being vaccinated, a person can still be infected and pass COVID-19 along.
“The ask is also to acknowledge that there might be other folks in their lives as they come across through their day to-day that are vulnerable, and we can protect them as well,” he said.
Helpful tips to keep you safe against COVID-19
As people transition to a post-pandemic life, the Johnson County Public Health department has some points it asks residents to remember:
- Be up-to-date with your vaccinations
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Cover your mouth when you cough
- Stay home if you are ill
- Consider wearing a mask indoors or in crowded places
- Consider taking a COVID-19 test if you feel sick and self-reporting if it is positive