Kansas doctors see early demand for COVID-19 vaccines for young children

by Noah Taborda, Kansas Reflector

Topeka — COVID-19 vaccinations for kids as young as six months old began Tuesday across the country, and Kansas doctors say demand is already high.

Last week, both Moderna and Pfizer received emergency use authorizations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Subsequently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on the vaccination for children younger than 5.

At the University of Kansas Health System, the vaccines are available during well child visits or by appointment during evening and Saturday vaccination time slots.

“What we’re hearing in the clinic is that parents are excited,” said Mallory Leach, a pediatric nurse manager with the health system, during a news briefing Monday. “Parents are already messaging us and calling us when are you going to have the vaccine in the clinic? When is it available for us to vaccinate our child?”

A federal advisory committee determined the benefits of both vaccines outweigh any risks after they were well-tolerated by children who received them during clinical trials. Under the FDA authorization, the Moderna vaccine will consist of two shots while the Pfizer vaccine consists of three shots.

With the virus now endemic, health system doctors advocated for vaccines as the best way to ensure national and local COVID-19 numbers trend in the right direction. The rolling seven-day average for cases has decreased for the past two weeks in Kansas.

While demand may be high, more than 27% of parents still say they will not get the vaccine for their children, said Dr. Kevin Ault, with the health system and CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. He said the fear factor remains around some misinformation of inaccurate reports of side effects.

“We don’t finish talking about these vaccines based on a one- or two-day meeting,” Dr. Ault said. “We have dozens of meetings because of the pandemic every year, and we’ll continue to review this safety data.”

Dr. Ault said a pregnant mother could be vaccinated, and the child should have protection from the virus for the first six months of life.

Dr. Ryan Smith, a pediatrician with KU Health System, said conversations with vaccine-hesitant parents will be a challenge but a necessary hurdle to overcome. He hoped people would, at the very least, be willing to engage in conversation about their hesitancies.

Dr. Smith, a father of 2-year-old twins, said he plans to have both his children vaccinated as soon as possible and warned some pediatric providers are considering whether to allow unvaccinated patients.

“There’s a lot of information that’s circulating around out there, and that’s why we have our visits,” Dr. Smith said. “That’s why we are here as resources as healthcare workers to kind of have these discussions and navigate through these difficult things.”

Kansas Reflector stories, www.kansasreflector.com, may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
See more at https://kansasreflector.com/2022/06/21/kansas-doctors-see-early-demand-for-covid-19-vaccines-for-young-children/

UG offers African American Community Forward Response

The Unified Government Health Department has launched the African American Community Forward Response, focusing on providing a variety of services and resources to African Americans throughout Wyandotte County.

The Health Department will hold weekly events each Monday at the Quindaro Community Center, 2726 Brown Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. The events will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Aug. 8, except for July 4.

As part of the African American Community Forward Response, the Health Department also is holding the Dotte Day Community Fest on Saturday, June 25.

The June 25 event will run from noon to 3 p.m., and will offer free lunches and a live remote broadcast, giveaways and music from Hot 103 Jamz radio.
The services available include:

• Free physical health screenings (including blood pressure, lung sounds, diabetes screening and diabetic foot checks, cognitive status checks and other health services)
• Financial planning, including $50 to open a savings account at Reliance Credit Union.
• Free job training, including resume building and assistance with creating a KansasWorks account online
• Free mental health screenings for kids and adults
• Nutrition information
• Family planning information and resources
• Free COVID-19 health services including free testing, vaccinations and booster shots.

“We want to provide the tools and resources that will empower our African American community to govern its physical, mental, financial and family well-being,” said Kay Sharp, AACF response coordinator with the Health Department. “This includes access to free health screenings and vaccinations, family planning resources, better nutrition, more robust short- and long-term financial planning strategies, job training and employment resources.”

Sharp emphasized that, although the African American Community Forward Response is targeted to the African American community in Wyandotte County, everyone is welcome to attend these events.

Partner organizations participating in these events include the Kansas Black Farmer’s Association, Reliance Credit Union, Wyandotte County Workforce Partnership, Donnelly College and the Unified Government Public Health Department.

Those who are attending events who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 are asked to wear a mask when indoors. Free disposable masks will be available at these events.

  • Story from UG Health Department

Red Cross urges caution as heat index rises in region

With hot temperatures and high humidity on the horizon, the American Red Cross is urging residents to take precautions against the heat.

According to the National Library of Medicine, extreme heat causes more deaths than any other weather-related hazard, killing 12,000 people living in the U.S. each year. In addition, the CDC reports that more than 65,000 people visit an emergency room in the U.S. for acute heat illness every summer.

Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees; and the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses, according to the Red Cross.

Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended. Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating and headaches.

Persons with heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin, according to the Red Cross. If a victim refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.

Red Cross heat wave safety tips:

Prepare. Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for what to do if the power goes out.
Dress for the heat. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
Stay hydrated. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.
Slow down and avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 and 7 a.m. Take frequent breaks.
Stay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Remember that electric fans do not cool, they simply circulate the air.
Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on family, friends and neighbors who are elderly or ill and those who do not have air conditioning. Check on your animals frequently, too, to make sure they are not suffering from the heat.
Learn Red Cross first aid and CPR-AED.

Know what these heat-related terms mean:

Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. They are caused by exposure to heat and humidity, and loss of fluids. Heat cramps are an early signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.
Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a hot, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim may suffer heat stroke. Signals of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.
Heat stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim’s temperature-control system, which produces sweat as a way of cooling the body, stops working. Body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing.

General care for heat emergencies:

Heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. If the person is fully awake and alert, give half a glass of cool water every 15 minutes, and have the person drink slowly. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths to the skin. Fan the person. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number if the person refuses water, vomits or loses consciousness.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Wrap wet towels or sheets around the body. Use a water hose, if available, to cool the victim. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body. If the victim refuses water or is vomiting or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.

Download apps. The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep people safe with real-time alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and safety advice. The Red Cross First Aid app provides instant access to information on handling the most common emergencies. Download these apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

  • Information from the American Red Cross of Missouri and Arkansas