PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. - Pfizer is pushing the FDA to approve its vaccine for children as young as five years old. With millions of kids back in school, and the COVID-19 Delta variant causing a huge jump in pediatric infections, the approval could turn the tide in this pandemic.
A surge in cases is still happening in communities across the region, with several positive cases among young people. The Tacoma Pierce County-Health Department said, in the last two weeks, 27% of new COVID-19 cases are among people ages 20 and younger. Officials further explained it was only 13 percent for that age group this same time last year.
"We know that COVID transmission in our community is high. We know that it spreads more in areas with lower vaccination rates. So, areas in east Pierce County, like Graham and Eatonville are closing schools because of outbreaks," said Naomi Wilson, community assessment manager for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
The health department's COVID-19 data dashboard is updated Monday through Friday. Wilson said communities across the United States, including Pierce County, are seeing just how aggressive the Delta variant is—spreading to people of all ages. She said this puts children ages 11 and under, who are still not eligible for a vaccine, at higher risk.
"And that’s roughly 150,000 kids here in Pierce County," she explained.
To better protect area youth, Wilson said it’s time for more parents to start asking people around their children about their vaccination status.
"Those are tough conversations for parents to have sometimes with other adults, but they need to understand that unvaccinated adults are more likely to expose their children to COVID than vaccinated adults," said Wilson.
The health department continues offering daily vaccination sites and testing sites across the county. The department teamed up with Clover Park Technical College to offer a two-day vaccine clinic for students and staff as the quarter began. The clinic offered a $50 cash incentive.
"We know some of our students may be hesitant to get vaccinated, and so we wanted to make it as convenient as possible and then to expand the accessibility," said Dr. Joyce Loveday, president of Clover Park Technical College. "The safer it is for each individual, the safer it is for the others at the institution and in our community."
Wilson said she is encouraging others to continue using a layered approach to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
"So, vaccinations for those eligible, mask wearing, physical distancing when possible, handwashing and making sure you’ve got good ventilation or you’re outside," said Wilson.
Stay connected with FOX 13 News on all platforms:
DOWNLOAD: FOX 13 News and Weather Apps
WATCH: FOX 13 News Live
SUBSCRIBE: FOX 13 on YouTube
DAILY BRIEF: Sign Up For Our Newsletter
FOLLOW: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram