Vaccine Mandates are Here, Pediatric Incidence Rates Increase

With a noticeable frustration, President Joe Biden laid out a plan last night to combat the pandemic with employer mandates and other initiatives.

President Biden announced last evening that he was going to direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is part of the Department of Labor, to mandate that all employers in the United States with 100 or more employees to implement a mandate for all employees to get vaccines or face weekly testing.

This is in addition to mandating federal contractors and millions of health care workers in medical institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to get vaccinated.

"We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us," Biden said of the unvaccinated.

The mandate was part of a 6-part plan Biden is going to implement. The other portions of his plan include:

  • Further protecting the vaccinated
  • Keeping Schools safely open
  • Increasing testing & requiring masking
  • Protecting our economic recovery
  • Improving care for those with COVID-19

To read more about the plan, view the individual points on the White House site.

The Need to Protect the Pediatric Population as Cases Increase in This Group

A pandemic of the “willfully unvaccinated,” Paul Offit, MD, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital Of Philadelphia (CHOP) said in an interview this morning on CNN. He noted that initially the pandemic had largely affected older people but it has now seen a great uptick in pediatric cases. During the interview, Offitt said that he was on service at CHOP recently and admitted cases of children who were unvaccinated and that their parents were also unvaccinated.

“For the week ending September 2, children were 26.8% of reported weekly COVID-19 cases,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “A smaller subset of states reported on hospitalizations and mortality by age; the available data indicate that COVID-19-associated hospitalization and death is uncommon in children.”

AAP also stated on its website, that of that same date, over 5 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

“About 252,000 cases were added the past week, the largest number of child cases in a week since the pandemic began,” AAP reported. “After declining in early summer, child cases have increased exponentially, with over 750,000 cases added between August 5 and September 2.”

And with schools across the nation open for in-person learning there has a been a large increase in cases.

Texas, for example, had at least 45 small school districts across the state forced to stop offering in-person classes as a result of COVID-19 cases in the first few weeks of the school year, according to the Texas Education Agency. In addition, from August 23-29, there were 27,353 new positive COVID-19 cases among students in Texas public schools, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

To combat this, schools and some states have been implementing mask mandates and one school district, the Los Angeles Unified School District, voted this week to require COVID-19 vaccines for eligible students. 

Still, all children under 12 are not able to get the vaccine yet, but it is likely this pediatric population might be eligible for vaccines before the year’s end. When an interviewer on the Today Show this week asked if his younger children might be able to get vaccinated by the winter holidays, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical advisor to the Biden Administration, said, "there's a reasonable chance that'll be the case."

What is apparent is the Delta surge being seen in the US in both the adult and pediatric populations is continuing, and now with all school-aged children back for in-person learning there will be more contact between kids and a greater likelihood for more transmissions. Hopefully, the Biden administration’s commitment to getting more people vaccinated will help before the onset of the colder months, and when respiratory viruses typically begin to peak.