A local pediatrician is urging Tullahomans to get vaccinated to protect the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its variants — including children under 12 — from the virus.
Pediatrician Dr. Clifford Seyler said his office is seeing an increase in the number of patients coming in with respiratory diseases, including both COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
As the Delta strain of the coronavirus rampages across the country, particularly in the Southeast, Seyler said his office saw several patients testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday, Aug. 16. Of the 130 patients his office saw on Monday, 51 of them were tested for the virus, 17 of which resulted in a positive diagnosis, or 33% positive.
Given the increase in pediatric patients testing positive for COVID-19, Seyler said he recommends parents vaccinate their children 12 and older who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine with informed consent.
Part of that informed consent, he told The News, is the potential for a serious side effect called myrocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. According to Seyler, studies have shown that children ages 12 to young adults as young as 29 may develop the condition if they receive the COVID-19 vaccine, at a rate of about two per 100,000 people. However, Seyler noted that the odds of people developing myocarditis after developing COVID-19 are about six per 100,000 people, making it still safer to get the vaccine than to contract COVID-19.
The CDC has come to the same conclusion as Seyler, stating that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks, although the balance of benefits and risks varies by age and gender, as cases of myocarditis have been observed in those vaccinated between December 29, 2020 . and June 11, 2021 were more common in men aged 30 or younger, and the risks of poor outcomes associated with COVID-19 increase with age.
“Per million second doses of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine administered to men aged 12-29 years, 11,000 COVID-19 cases, 560 hospitalizations, 138 ICU admissions and six deaths from COVID-19 can be prevented, compared to 39- 47 expected cases of myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination,” states a CDC report on the myocarditis side effect. “CDC and FDA will continue to closely monitor reports of myocarditis following receipt of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and will forward any additional data to ACIP for consideration.”
With informed consent, Seyler said, he hopes parents will consider vaccinating their children and continue to wear masks to stop the spread of COVID-19 among the community. He further said that if the spread of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 and RSV continues unabated, the community could see serious consequences, such as the closure of schools.
In addition, he said, his office has seen a significant number of pediatric cases of RSV, which is unusual for the summer.
“Last year, because of masking and social distancing and hybrid school districts, we didn’t see any flu cases at all,” he said. “The entire practice saw three flu cases all year, which is unheard of, and we didn’t see any RSV.”
Typically, Seyler said, RSV is a common infection during the winter months, particularly around November through February or March. This disease can hospitalize babies with severe symptoms, he noted.
This year, however, Seyler said his office started seeing RSV cases in early June, which is unusual for the disease.
“That’s completely out of season,” he said. “Usually it is not in the summer months. This has led to a problem, because the [children] they need to be hospitalized, they need to be admitted to the children’s hospital, and Vanderbilt is filled up — they filled up with RSV, but now they’re filling up with coronavirus.”
With two separate respiratory illnesses that land children in the hospital, Seyler said, “patients are competing for beds,” with RSV being “ahead of pediatric COVID-19 cases.”
“I don’t think we’re beginning to see the end of it,” the doctor warned.
So far, Seyler said, he hasn’t seen a single pediatric COVID-19 case become critical, but he warned it would — it was only a matter of time.
“It’s better for kids,” he said.
To keep all of his patients safe, Seyler said his practice has separate entrances for those with potential COVID-19 infections and those without. Patients suspected of having the coronavirus will be given a rapid COVID test in their vehicle to determine next steps. If the patient tests positive, they are taken to a back entrance, where practice personnel with personal protective equipment treat them. All other patients, including those for checkups, well visits or routine vaccinations, use the main entrance.
In addition, Seyler said, all patient rooms are sterilized and treated with UV light to kill any viral particles that may remain in the office after a patient is seen.
“It kills any virus within 16 seconds,” Seyler said.
The light is UV-C light, a high-frequency form of UV light, he said. The light is used in all patient rooms, regardless of why they have seen the doctor or his staff.
All of these measures were put in place last year, Seyler said, but are still being used to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But, Seyler said, he recommends his patients, with informed consent, be vaccinated when they are 12 years and older.
As of Monday, August 23, the Food and Drug Administration has fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for marketing and use in the U.S. to individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine remains available under an emergency use license for children 12 to 15 years old, according to the FDA. The drug will be marketed as Comirnaty, according to an FDA statement Monday afternoon.
“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD. “While this and other vaccines meet the FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for emergency use authorization, the public can be the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine to have confidence that this vaccine meets high standards of safety. , effectiveness and production quality. the FDA requires an approved product.
“While millions of people have already received safe COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, FDA approval of a vaccine can now provide additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone brings us one step closer to changing the course of this pandemic in the US.”