Morning Medical Update Monday 8-23-21

           The number of COVID patients being treated at The University of Kansas Health System went up over the weekend. 62 patients with the active virus are receiving care, up from 56 Friday. Only four of those 62 are vaccinated. Sadly, two COVID patients died yesterday, making nine over the past week. 22 of those active inpatients are in the ICU, up from 20 on Friday. 15 of them are on ventilators, up from 13 Friday. 28 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, down from 36 Friday. That’s a total of 90 patients, down from 92 Friday. HaysMed has a decrease in patients today with 14 total, down from 17 Friday. Children’s Mercy Hospital reports 15 positive COVID patients, down from 18 Friday.

            On today’s Morning Medical Update, breaking news that the FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. Dr. Angela Myers, the Infectious Diseases Division Director at Children's Mercy joined Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control to discuss that and to answer questions and concerns as children are back in the classroom, some masked, some not.                                                             

            Near the end of the Morning Medical Update, at approximately 44:40 on the time code, word came in that the FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. Both doctors were very excited at the news. They hope this is what the vaccine hesitant need to convince them to get the vaccine. Dr. Myers says while many of the hesitant claim the vaccine was rushed and there’s not enough data, the fact is these vaccines have more data available than any other vaccine in history. She stresses after billions of doses given worldwide, the data shows they are safe. Dr. Hawkinson hopes this will push the hesitant toward getting vaccinated, but fears some will simply come up with another excuse to avoid it. He also believes this news will be what many companies were waiting for to make vaccines mandatory for their employees.

            On other topics, Dr. Myers noted children accounted for about 15 percent of new COVID cases. She thinks it’s because people got too comfortable after lower numbers in the spring and all the mask and gathering restrictions were lifted. That allowed the much stronger Delta variant to take hold. She was encouraged by how many area school districts now require masks, especially since those under 12 can’t yet get the vaccine. She feels that will keep the virus from spreading through the schools, and through the families of those kids. She points out that kids are always at the mercy of their parents’ decisions, and agrees with the head physician at New Orleans Children’s Hospital that kids have become “collateral damage” of adults who frame mask and vaccine refusal as an issue of “personal freedom” rather the common sense public health measures that they are. She says it’s a parent’s responsibility to make kids brush their teeth, eat their vegetables, wear a seatbelt and wear a bike helmet just like it’s their responsibility to make sure they are healthy by getting themselves and their eligible children vaccinated. She says the virus has put more pressure on children’s hospitals and pointed out that kids can get long haul symptoms from COVID, just like adults. She also noted there have been about 450 child deaths around the country from COVID, compared with about 150 a year from influenza. She adds that the risk of myocarditis from the vaccine are extremely rare…about 16 in one million. It always goes away in a few days and is nothing like the myocarditis kids get from the virus itself, which happens six times more often. She also wants to bust a myth. She says there is no science behind the claims by some parents that if their kids have to wear masks all day, they will be harmed by bacteria, germs and carbon dioxide.

            Dr. Hawkinson doesn’t think it’s as important to wipe down surfaces, backpacks and clothes as it is to practice good hand hygiene. He advises people not to run out and get a booster shot right now, because it’s only being recommended for people who are immunocompromised. He adds that we still have significant protection from the current vaccines and reminds us the vaccines are not intended to prevent us from all infection. They are meant to keep us from severe illness, hospitalization, and death. He feels each of us has to weigh the risks of going to a big gathering such as a concert or a sporting event. Many public venues are now requiring proof of vaccination to attend, and he thinks this will help encourage people to get vaccinated. He says if your doctor is advising you or your family not to get the vaccine, it’s time to find a new doctor.


            Tuesday, August 23 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. We look at COVID testing. Lab staff are working overtime as more and more people are getting tested. We explain how the tests work with the Delta variant and examine reliability of the rapid tests. Also, a look at when you should get tested.

NOTE:  Journalists should rejoin the Morning Medical Update at 8am as doctors are growing too busy again for individual interview requests.  Please bring questions or send to until further notice.  Thanks for all you do and helping to keep the community safe with your reporting.

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