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Santa Monica COVID Cases Dip as County Preps to Vaccinate Young Children

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By Jorge Casuso

June 20, 2022 -- Coronavirus cases dipped in Santa Monica for the first time in five weeks as Los Angeles County Health officials prepare to offer vaccines for infants and young children.

There were 368 COVID cases confirmed in Santa Monica last week, bringing the total number of cases in the city of some 93,000 residents to 20,571, according to County data.

The total number of residents who have died with the virus since the pandemic began 27 months ago remained at 248, according to County officials, who note it typically takes two weeks to confirm a death.

Coronavirus cases began rising in March driven by the highly contagious Omicron BA.2 lineage and sub-lineages, although the surge has not resulted in a proportionate rise in deaths.

And while hospitalizations have been rising, reaching more than 600 per day, those levels are similar to those last fall when Santa Monica was routinely reporting fewer than 100 cases a week.

Still, County officials last week cautioned that if hospitalizations continue to rise, indoor mask mandates could be reimposed.

"This may not be a pandemic that ends," county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. "It may simply continue to shift and change and we will live with it one way or another, primarily by vaccination and probably masking."

Health officials have been pushing for unvaccinated residents to get the shot, and those who have been vaccinated to get boosters, since the efficacy of the vaccines wane with the new variants.

In Santa Monica, 93.3 percent of the population over five years of age were vaccinated as of June 13, one of the highest vaccination rates in the County.

Those numbers will rise as County Health officials prepare to offer vaccines to everyone over the age of 6 months after federal regulators gave the go-ahead last week.

The Moderna vaccine is now available for children ages 6 months through 5 years, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 6 months through 4 years.

While an estimated 18 million children under the age of five are eligible for the shots nationwide, polls show most parents are hesitant or reluctant to have them vaccinated.

A recent survey by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that only 18 percent of parents said they were eager to have their child vaccinated right away.

Another 38 percent said they planned to wait, while about 4 in 10 parents were reluctant to have their children given the shot.

The Pfizer shots for children under 5 are one-tenth of an adult dose, while the Moderna shots are one-quarter the adult dose

Federal health officials caution that children and teens who are allergic to an ingredient in Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines and could suffer a severe reaction should not be vaccinated.

The reactions include anaphylaxis, which according to the Mayo Clinic can "causes the immune system to release a flood of chemicals that can cause you to go into shock."

Reactions can also include difficulty breathing caused by angioedema, which causes the skin to swell, "especially around the eyes, cheeks and lips," according to the clinic's website.

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