Coos County reports 34th death amid mask, vaccine news

May 18—Amid hopeful news from state and federal COVID-19 experts, Coos County this week reported…

May 18—Amid hopeful news from state and federal COVID-19 experts, Coos County this week reported its 34th virus death.

A woman in her 100’s died with the virus, according to Coos Health & Wellness. The presence of underlying conditions is still under investigation.

Coos County’s COVID-19 case rates still remain some of the lowest the county’s seen since cases of the virus started appearing. As of Thursday, the county reported just 43 active cases of the virus and two hospitalizations.

Just about half of the county’s 16-and-older population had been vaccinated as of Thursday.

No masks needed in most circumstances for fully vaccinated

And for those who are fully vaccinated, federal officials issued exciting news this week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidance Thursday that anyone who’s more than two weeks beyond their last dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can largely get back to doing the things they stopped doing because of the pandemic.

According to the agency, those who’ve been fully vaccinated can “resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

There are some exceptions to the rules: Masks are still required on public transportation and in health care settings, and businesses, workplaces and local governments can still require masks to be worn.

Officials in Oregon changed state rules to align with the guidance.

“Starting today, Oregon will be following this guidance, which only applies to fully vaccinated individuals,” Gov. Kate Brown said Thursday. “That means Oregonians who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks or social distance in most public spaces.”

In previous updates to federal guidance, CDC experts have also said those who are fully vaccinated are safe enough to:

* Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel

* Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States

* Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings

* Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic

* Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible

Vaccines for kids: Pfizer shots approved for ages 12-15

What’s more, younger people can now begin to join that fully vaccinated crowd.

On Wednesday, state regulators approved the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, and gave vaccine providers the green light to begin administering the shots to those in the age group.

“Expanding COVID-19 vaccination to anyone 12 years of age and above will both protect those who are vaccinated and contribute to control of the COVID-19 pandemic in our states,” a four-state review committee wrote in its review, saying the vaccine is “safe and effective in this age group.”

State leaders celebrated the announcement.

“This is great news for Oregon children, parents, and families. Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” Brown wrote in a statement. “It is completely normal for parents and kids to have questions about vaccines — I urge you to reach out to your family doctor or pharmacist and get your questions answered today.”

Coos County health officials have said they’d begin administering their available Pfizer doses to those in the age group upon their approval.

County hospitals and some pharmacies coordinate their vaccination events on a central calendar, and note which vaccines are being administered. That calendar is available online at www.communityhealth.events/scheduler/ or by calling 541-435-7553.

The Oregon Health Authority released a guide for questions frequently asked about the COVID-19 vaccine in youth. Selected answers are below, and complete information about vaccines is available on the state’s website at covidvaccine.oregon.gov/.

What are the side effects for youth?

OHA: The possible side effects after receiving vaccine are the same in youth as they are in other people. Most people develop some soreness at the injection site. Fatigue and headache are common. Less common are muscle aches, chills, joint pain, vomiting, or fever. This range of reactions is normal in response to receiving vaccine. Side effects are more common in youth and younger people than among older adults. Most resolve after a day or two.

Can youth receive the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

OHA: No. Currently the only vaccine that has received emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in people under age 18 is the Pfizer (or Pfizer BioNTech) vaccine. Youth, parents or guardians need to search for appointments or walk-in services in locations that provide the Pfizer vaccine.

When will vaccines be authorized for the 2-11 age group?

OHA: We don’t know. Vaccines are authorized for emergency use by the FDA following review of an application by a manufacturer. At this point, no other manufacturers have applied for authorization for emergency use for persons under 12 years of age. The manufacturers are testing both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in people under age 12 and might request authorization for use in this age group in the fall of 2021.

Do parents or guardians need to accompany their child to their vaccine appointment?

OHA: It depends. Parental or guardian consent is required to vaccinate people 12-14 years old, but the parental or guardian consent requirement does not necessarily mean a parent or guardian must go with the youth to receive the vaccination. Written consent could be obtained in advance. You should contact the vaccine provider or vaccination clinic to determine whether a parent or guardian must be present.

Under Oregon law, minors 15 and older may give consent to receive medical treatment, including vaccinations, when provided by a physician, physician assistant, naturopath, nurse practitioner, dentist or optometrist, or other professionals operating under the license of these providers.

With the exception of pharmacies, most locations where COVID-19 vaccinations are provided have oversight by a medical provider on this list. In order to remove barriers to vaccination, OHA recommends that eligible locations not require consent from a parent or guardian to vaccine someone age 15, 16, or 17.

Providers administering COVID-19 vaccinations to 15-17-year-old people should make it clear on their website, print materials and at the time a vaccine appointment is made whether consent from a parent or guardian is required and whether a parent or guardian must be present at the vaccination appointment.

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