The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services issued a statewide order related to COVID-19 testing. The order “authorizes any health care provider or other trained personnel authorized by their licensure, scope of practice, and the rules and requirements of a health care facility or medically supervised COVID-19 collection site to collect, submit for laboratory analysis, evaluate results in the case of rapid antigen tests, specimens to be tested using a SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test for any individual.” The order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until June 30, 2022, unless rescinded earlier.
- Disease Management
More Than 530,000 Missouri Children Ages Five To 11 Now Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccination
On Oct. 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of a lower-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine formulated for children ages five to 11. The decision was based on trial data surrounding efficacy and safety, which found the vaccines to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections among younger children, in addition to no detectable serious adverse reactions to the vaccines among 3,100 children participating in the trial. Final approval was granted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Nov. 2.
Using county-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau on the population of children ages five to 11 in conjunction with ShowMeVax data on vaccine completion rates for children ages 12 to 17 to estimate probable demand for vaccines among younger children revealed several important findings.
First, the expanded authorization enables access to lifesaving vaccines for more than half a million Missouri children. Second, the uptake of the vaccines among older children and teens varies widely across counties in Missouri, with completion rates ranging from 4% in Clark County to more than 50% in both St. Louis City and County. Overall, the completion rate among Missouri children ages 12 to 17 stands at 34.2% as of Nov. 8. Vaccinations for children in this age group began in earnest in mid-March when eligibility criteria opened for children ages 16 and 17 who were included in the original authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, in addition to emergency use authorization for children ages 12 to 15, which came from the FDA on May 10. Using the same coverage rates at the county level for children ages 12 to 17 superimposed on population data for children ages five to 11 suggests that throughout the next eight months, 366,000 doses will need to be administered to 183,000 younger children in Missouri. It is critically important that we close the coverage gap of immunization for children across Missouri’s counties in addition to increasing the overall acceptance among concerned parents to move vaccine completion rates for children beyond one-third of the population.
Parents electing to have their younger children vaccinated against COVID-19 quickly could enjoy the added benefit of full protection in time for the holiday season this year. The decision should be made in consultation with a child’s pediatrician or other health care professional. While the risk of severe illness and death is substantially lower among children, their protection is critically important in preventing disruptions to in-person learning and secondary infections among high-risk friends and family members.