Health experts discuss the availability of booster shots and vaccines for kids 5-11

Updated: Apr 1

Louisville still in red alert status but cases continue a slow downward trend

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 27, 2021) – Louisville Metro Department of Public I'llHealth and Wellness experts Director Dr. Sarah Moyer, Associate Medical Director Dr. SarahBeth Hartlage, Assistant Director Connie Mendel were joined by Dr. Daniel Blatt, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Norton’s Children’s Hospital and Dr. Swannie Jett, CEO of Park DuValle Community Health Center, to provide an update on COVID-19 cases and vaccines as well as discuss the availability of booster shots and the latest reports about vaccines for children between ages 5 and 11.

Louisville has seen a slow decline of COVID-19 cases and a slight increase of vaccinations in the past several weeks, said Dr. Hartlage, but she urged caution for residents who wish to celebrate the upcoming holiday season and winter months.

“We are inching our way back out the red zone for now, but the number of cases is still significantly higher than we saw in June and July when we were at our lowest,” she said. “It’s important to remember that it takes no time for the numbers to increase, but it takes a long time to slowly work its way back down after a surge.”

Dr. Hartlage emphasized the most effective way to combat the virus is for more people to complete their two-dose series.

“The guidance is to be safe and smart. Is it safe to go to the pumpkin patch outside with your family? Yes. Is it safe to go trick-or-treating? Probably so. But don’t you want to be in a crowded house where there’s a higher risk situation,” she said. “That’s why it is important to be vaccinated, and we hope that you surround yourself with vaccinated people. It’s the path forward to be able to do things we enjoy safely.”

Here are the key COVID-19 data metrics for October 26, 2021:

  • Louisville remains in the alert level red with an incidence rate of 27.2

  • There were 1,459 new cases over the previous week. This was the third week of a decline in cases.

  • There were 8 deaths in individuals with ages ranging from 52 to 86.

  • Hospitalization data:

  • 132 patients currently hospitalized have COVID-19.

  • 39 patients in ICU with COVID-19.

  • 24 COVID-19 patients on ventilators


Vaccines

  • 65.3% of Louisville residents have received at least one dose of vaccine

  • 57.3% have completed the vaccine series

Mix-and-match booster shots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved booster shots for all adults who got the one-shot Janssen vaccine and a select group of fully vaccinated Moderna recipients. The CDC also has approved a “mix-and-match” approach, giving booster-eligible people the option of getting a new dose of any approved COVID vaccine, regardless of the one they initially received.

For those concerned about getting a booster shot, Dr. Hartlage reviewed the CDC’s recommendation for booster doses for those who have completed their initial two-dose series at least six months ago. People who are eligible are:

  • 65 years and older

  • 18+ who have underlying medical conditions

  • 18+ who live in high-risk settings

“If you completed your two-dose series six months ago, now is the time to look into getting a booster shot leading into the holiday season,” she said. “It’s safe to mix and match the vaccines, which are available at many providers in the city.”

Individuals who fall into those groups should discuss getting a booster dose with their healthcare provider. Vaccination locations can be found at vaccines.gov.


Blatt and Jett provide insight on vaccines for children ages 5-11

Dr. Blatt, who works for both Norton Healthcare and the University of Louisville, detailed how COVID can affect small children and the number of hospitalizations he has seen this year. He was encouraged by the clinical trial data of the Pfizer pediatric vaccine and recommended that parents should talk to their health professional to get more information.

“We see a lot of kids who have COVID-19. The majority of the kids are outpatient, however, many of them have been severely ill. Although the numbers in the community are getting better, we are still seeing sick kids,” he said. “It’s still important to be diligent about our public health measures.”

Dr. Blatt said that he is excited about the new pediatric vaccine that might be on the horizon next month, decreasing the spread of the virus to elderly and immunocompromised adults.

“The preliminary data that Pfizer has released is promising for 5 to 11-year-olds, which will prevent serious adverse events and even mild events. The vaccine’s efficacy is over 90% effective in preventing systematic COVID,” he said. “The data suggested that this could prevent thousands and thousands of cases and prevent hundreds of hospitalizations, and that’s significant.”

Dr. Blatt said that it’s natural for parents to be concerned about the vaccines, but the “trial data has universally proven that the vaccines are very, very safe.”

Norton Healthcare will be offering the vaccine to children ages between 5 and 11, Dr. Blatt said. If parents need more information about the vaccine, he encouraged them to talk to their pediatrician for more information.

Dr. Jett detailed the lasting adverse effects that children can contract from COVID, such as coughing or lingering breathing issues. He also highlighted the safety of the vaccine and invited families to visit Park DuValle Community Health Centers in Russell and Spencer County for more information and vaccine opportunities.

“It is key that we are in prevention mode to ensure that we are saving lives,” he said. “Vaccinations are important and critical for us to move out of this pandemic.”

Say Yes to COVID Test

Nearly 100,000 Say Yes COVID Tests have been ordered online and distributed to households, and more than 54,000 tests have been delivered to community partners, Mendel said. The rapid home tests are available for residents who live in specific ZIP codes. The tests can be ordered on-line, picked up at more than 50 partner locations, or individuals can call the LOU Health Helpline at 502-912-8598 for assistance.

The Say Yes! COVID Test encourages residents to perform a home test twice a week, regardless of symptoms, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep the community healthy.

“The National Institutes of Health gave us a great opportunity to offer free, rapid home COVID tests to people living in specific ZIP codes in Louisville. Those ZIP codes were selected because the residents there have experienced a higher burden of disease from COVID. They also are areas with the lowest vaccination rates,” Mendel said. “People can get up to eight tests by requesting them online, through our COVID helpline, or by picking them up at partner locations.”

Louisville residents have until midnight Nov. 12 to order the tests online. They will be available for pick up at partner locations while supplies last.


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View this week’s COVID-19 briefing with public health officials here.

The city’s COVID-19 data dashboard, a complete list of COVID-19 testing sites, vaccine information, prevention and contact tracing can be found at www.louisville.gov/covid19. The LOU HEALTH COVID19 Helpline is also available: 502-912-8598.

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