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Vaccinations Continue to Be Our Way Out of the Pandemic


As a contributor to Irvine Community News & Views, I want to provide an update regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to the life-saving COVID-19 vaccines, levels of the infection are now significantly down and COVID-19 restrictions have eased considerably.

However, we must remain vigilant! Even though we all want the pandemic to be over, it is not. Viruses continue to mutate and new variants emerge when there are not enough people vaccinated. That continues to be true of COVID-19. We can expect another spike in cases, as we’ve already begun to see on east coast.

Here’s the good news. Just over 72% of Orange County residents are considered “fully vaccinated,” having received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Many have also had the first booster. CDC now recommends that those over 50 years of age, and those with underlying high-risk conditions, take the second booster shot 4-6 months after the first booster. Through rigorous multiple studies, we have learned that our immunity wanes over time.

Now for the not-so-good news. Vaccination rates among children have stalled. While 66% of California kids ages 12-17 are fully vaccinated, only 33% of children ages 5 thru 11 who are eligible have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

I understand that many parents have concerns about vaccinating their children. However, studies have shown that the authorized Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective, safe, and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for all children and adolescents 5 years of age and older who do not have vaccine contraindications.

Nationally, over 11 million children have already been infected with COVID-19. Recent studies indicate that children who have contracted COVID-19 have an increased risk for myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). To read more about infection rates among children and why vaccines are so important, click here to access the American Academy of Pediatrics webpage.

We must continue to all do our part to help protect our City’s very young children (those under 5 years of age) and those who have underlying health issues that prevent them from being vaccinated. Many members of our community — myself included — have continued to wear masks to prevent us from becoming vectors of disease transmission. It’s such an easy thing to do and it makes a real difference with respect to transmission rates.

We must remember not to bully those who choose to continue to wear masks, especially our children who may not want to expose their younger unvaccinated siblings, or parents/grandparents who may be immunocompromised, to the virus.

Click here for the latest guidelines on vaccinations for children.

If you are a parent, I urge you to take the time to watch these videos, which come from the Orange County chapter of the AAP and include guidance from local experts. If you have questions, contact your doctor and your child’s pediatrician. Click here to learn more about long-haul COVID among children and teens from Dr. Peter Rowe, Professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Click here to watch a short video from the UCI Merage School about the importance of protecting the ones you love through safe, free, effective COVID-19 vaccines.

Phyllis Agran, MD, MPH, FAAP
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