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Monterey County COVID-19 numbers continue to shrink – Monterey Herald

SALINAS – As Monterey County continues to see COVID-19 numbers go down over the past few weeks, it is looking at the next steps toward getting shots in the arms of children 5 to 11 years of age.

At Wednesday’s Monterey County media briefing, Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno outlined the next steps before the Pfizer vaccine gets to children in that age group.

“Once the advisory group to the (Food and Drug Administration) makes their recommendation, which they have, the FDA will consider that and the agency head will make a determination based on recommendations from the advisory group and their own staff,” said Moreno. “… then the FDA will come out with its emergency use authorization criteria.”

Moreno said the advisory group to the Centers for Disease Control will take up the data, the research, and the outcomes, to consider the recommendation of the FDA advisory group and then make a recommendation to the CDC. The CDC director may come out with guidance for clinicians and vaccine providers for the general population about who may receive the Pfizer vaccine, in this case the 5-11 age group.

“Here in California there is a Western States Advisory Group which advises the health departments of the four western states in the group which includes California, and then the California Department of Public Health will issue its own recommendations,” said Moreno.

It won’t be much longer until those recommendations are issued Moreno said.

Looking at the information the county has on vaccinating the 12-17-year-old age group, “we made pretty good progress in a short amount of time,” said Moreno.

About 76% of that age group in Monterey County have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Getting the vaccine for children is very important because one of the goals, besides trying to protect Monterey County’s health system from becoming overwhelmed with having children come in who are sick or severely ill with COVID-19, is to keep children in the classroom officials say. By vaccinating children in the 5-11 age group, it decreases the likelihood they will come down with symptoms of COVID-19 and have to isolate. Vaccination will decrease the number of exposures and cases in schools, said Moreno.

“We’re definitely working very hard together in public health, health care providers, businesses and the community at large to try to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Moreno. “We are seeing a decrease in positivity which goes along with other statistics that show the transmission has been declining over several weeks now, so that’s a very good sign, and also our hospital numbers have come down.”

As of Monday, the Monterey County key COVID-19 Metrics web page reports the case rate is 4.9 per 100,000, the test positivity rate is 2.0%, and there are seven current hospitalizations. At the end of August, the case rate was 13.2 per 100,000, the test positivity rate was 4.2% and there were 50 hospitalizations.

The California Immunization Registry reports 83% of Monterey County residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine while 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated.

The CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker reports Monterey County is in the second, or moderate tier of its four-tier system, for community transmission.

Currently, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office reports eight active COVID-19 cases among its population of 898 with no hospitalizations. Last week it reported 16 active cases among its 878 population with no hospitalizations.

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