Many Yolo families choosing not to vaccinate children

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With an Omicron surge underway and children returning to the classroom next week, vaccinations among children in Yolo County are behind expectations of officials.

Fewer than one in four Yolo County children (23.7 percent) ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and just 31.5 percent have received at least one dose, according to the California Department of Public Health.

That age group has been eligible for the pediatric Pfizer vaccine since early November. As with the adult dose, shots are given three weeks apart.

Yolo County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson will be sending out a letter to students and their families addressing the importance of vaccination, as well as the need to wear well-fitting, high-quality masks indoors, to get tested and to stay home when sick. She noted that New York City is seeing an increase in pediatric hospitalizations as part of their Omicron wave, especially among unvaccinated children, illustrating the importance of getting children vaccinated.

And while the vaccination rate for 5- to 11-year-olds in Yolo County is less than 25 percent, it does exceed the statewide rate of 15.1 percent fully vaccinated.

However, Yolo County is lagging the state in the 12 to 17 age group, with 55.6 percent fully vaccinated (still defined as having received two shots) and 60.8 percent having received at least one dose, according to state data.

Statewide, 63.9 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds are fully vaccinated and 71.7 percent have received at least one dose.

Yolo County also trails the state in the 18 to 49 age group.

Statewide, 74.5 percent of residents in that age group are fully vaccinated but in Yolo County, 66.9 percent are, according to state data.

The county exceeds the statewide vaccination rate among older populations.

Yolo County residents ages 50 to 64 have the highest vaccination rate in the county, with 87.9 percent fully vaccinated. Statewide for 50- to 64-year olds, 81.8 percent are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, a little over 85 percent of county residents ages 65 and up are fully vaccinated, compared to 79.9 percent statewide.

Broken down by race and ethnicity, Asian Americans in Yolo County have the highest vaccination rate, with 69.8 percent fully vaccinated, followed by Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders with 67.9 percent fully vaccinated, according to state data.

Among the county’s Black residents, 64.7 percent are fully vaccinated as are 64.2 percent of white residents.

Fifty-two percent of American Indian and Alaska Native residents are fully vaccinated as are 56.9 percent of Latino residents, according the state Department of Public Health.

County health order
Yolo County’s health order requiring individuals who test positive for COVID-19 to remain in isolation for 10 days remains in effect for the time being.

The county also requires unvaccinated individuals who have been identified as a close contact with someone who tested positive to quarantine for 10 days.

Those standards have been in place since last year, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week revised its recommendations to shorten the isolation period to five days for individuals who remain asymptomatic, with the added proviso that they wear a mask when around others for five more days.

The CDC also now recommends that unvaccinated individuals who were exposed to COVID-19, as well as vaccinated individuals who are eligible for boosters but have not received one, to quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for another five days.

Individuals who have received a booster shot do not need to quarantine but should wear a mask for 10 days after exposure, according to the CDC.

“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally one to two days prior to onset of symptoms and the two to three days after,” according to the CDC announcement.

“Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for five days and, if asymptomatic at that time, may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for five days to minimize the risk of infecting others.”

The state has announced it will align with the new standards and Yolo County is planning to revise its isolation and quarantine orders, according to county public information officer John Fout. But the county is seeking additional details from the CDC and California Department of Public Health before doing so.

In the meantime, the current orders still apply, Fout said.

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