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Time To Vaccinate Young Virginians

Virginia data shows that at present younger adults and children  contribute in  a major way to the rapid spread of COVID-19 — a trend that’s causing worries among health officials as the nation moves forward with a vaccination campaign named by many experts as “a race between variants and the vaccine.”

Time To Vaccinate Young Virginians

The Deputy State Epidemiologist Caroline Holsinger said that no doubt the total number of cases in Virginia has really decreased. But what is shocking is that the percentage of cases among 0 to 19 year-olds has increased.

Time To Vaccinate Young Virginians

In the month of January,  that age group’s infections made up roughly 15 percent of the state’s total cases. But last week, these made up 22 percent. Adults that are aged between 20 through 39 account for the largest share of Virginia’s cases, but that number has remained quite stable. During the same period, 20 through 39-year-olds made up for around 34 to 38 percent of the state’s total cases — even as infections among senior citizens of Virginians have dropped remarkably.

State vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said in a telebriefing last week that nevertheless, Virginia is not facing the surge of new cases that’s been witnessed in other areas of the country — including parts of Michigan and Texas which are struggling to contain the spread of variant. But after a dramatic drop in the latter part of  January, infections are plateauing rather than declining, 

That’s a point of worry for health officials as the state marches ahead to vaccinate a larger share of its population. Till Friday, Virginia had given more than 4.5 million doses and nearly 20 percent of the population were fully vaccinated. But the shifting age demographics of new infections show that the virus is still spreading among a younger lot of Virginians who are not yet eligible for the vaccine — or who were not given priority in the initial phases of the state’s rollout.  

COVID-19 variants are remarkably contributing to a growing number of cases. By the end of March,  more than 100 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant — also known as the UK variant — and 25 cases of B.1.351, a variant first discovered in South Africa were identified by the state There’s a significant lag in identifying those strains, so real numbers are likely to be far higher, according to Bryan Lewis, a computational epidemiologist at the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute. 

In Virginia, around thirty percent of the infections from this B.1.1.7 Covid-19 variant were found in the patients below the age of 20, as said by Holsinger. There is still no conclusive evidence whether it or the other newly discovered variants of the virus will more likely be infecting children and this data suggests that all the currently available vaccine shots are more likely very protective against these. But the B.1.1.7 variant is not only much more infectious but also causes many more severe illnesses — even in the younger patients.

They cannot look at the data in Virginia and also draw out any such conclusions,” as she said. Recently the hospital numbers are causing great concern. As per Holsinger, the high majority of hospitalizations in the U.S. are occurring in people aged 18 to 49 years olds and between 50 and 64 years olds.

So, we are also seeing this rapid shift from the people aged 65 or older, that was the reason behind the hospitalizations in the pandemic earlier as she said. In the state of Virginia, there has been another increase in the number of hospitalizations among many young adults, but certain specific regions of the state.

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