Vol 3, Issue 621 March 2022
The latest updates on COVID-19, testing, and vaccines curated for L2R school districts.
Swab & Jab
What to Know About BA.2
Here’s what to know:
- The BA.2 strain, a subvariant of omicron, is more transmissible but no more severe than the original omicron variant, BA.1, that caused the latest surge in Washington.
- BA.2 is now the dominant variant worldwide. As of March 16, according to the WHO, BA.2 makes up 75% of COVID-19 cases globally.
- In the United Kingdom, where vaccination rates are higher than those in the United States, BA.2 is responsible for over 50% of new COVID-19 cases.
- A combination of factors, not just increased circulation of BA.2, may be driving upticks in other countries. These factors include:
- The highly transmissible BA.2 variant
- The lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions
- Waning immunity from vaccination or prior infection
- Since it was first detected in the United States in January 2022, the percentage of new cases attributed to BA.2 has increased slowly.
- As of March 12, the BA.2 variant makes up 23% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States. This is an increase of almost 10% compared to the previous two-week reporting cycle.
- In Washington state, as of March 16, BA.2 makes up a little over 9% of all cases.
COVID-19 cases among children and youth in Washington State
Cases and hospitalizations among children and youth continue to decline sharply. Here are the key findings from the DOH report on cases among those ages 0-19 from February 20, 2022 to March 06, 2022.
- There were a total of 2,698 cases reported for this period (143.1 cases per 100,000).
- The total number of cases (2,698) decreased by almost 75% compared with the previous two-week reporting period (10,606).
- The highest case rates were in Educational Service District (ESD) 114.
- The highest case rates were among 4 to 10-year-olds (156.3 cases per 100,000).
- There were 36 hospitalizations for this reporting period (1.9 hospitalizations per 100,000). This is down from 96 hospitalizations over the reporting period February 6 to February 20, 2022.
Vaccination rates in school-aged kids
- 67.3% initiated vaccination
- 61.7% fully vaccinated
- 42.5% received a booster
- 59.5% initiated vaccination
- 54.2% fully vaccinated
- 38.2% received a booster
- 36% initiated vaccination
- 30.9% fully vaccinated
- This age group is not yet eligible for booster shots.
New iHealth video!
Watch the video here and share with your school communities.
It’s never been easier to host an event! Our DOH-approved vendors provide:
- Online registration and parental consent forms in English and Spanish
- In-person translation and interpretation services for onsite vaccination events
- Management of logistics including ordering of vaccines, storage, and handling
- Specialized onsite staff for vaccination administration, support, and clinical monitoring
- Reporting to the Washington State Immunization Information System (WA IIS)
Reach out to your L2R Program Manager today to schedule an event.
L2R Labor Support Fund
Expanded roles for testing staff
The answer is yes!
If the district continues to offer COVID-19 testing to students and staff, and if testing and testing-related work continue to be a primary intent of day-to-day duties for testing staff, they can engage in other COVID-19 mitigation strategies and activities during periods of low testing demand.
Reach out to your L2R Program Manager to learn more. Requests for support may be backdated to January 1, 2022.
Prepare for Spring Break
After two years of the pandemic and unprecedented stress to students and staff, no one deserves Spring Break more than Washington school communities. But how do we safeguard against increased transmission once students return to the classroom after break?
Spring Break means increased social activity, travel, mingling indoors and outdoors, and is arriving just as we relax many precautions such as the indoor mask mandate. As we see in a growing number of countries, this combination of factors can create an uptick in cases, especially as the BA.2 subvariant continues to circulate.
Here are some ideas to consider as students and staff return from Spring Break to help guard against increased transmission in schools:
- Send students and staff home with take-home rapid antigen tests before they leave for spring break.
- Email/text families and staff (set automated reminders) over the break to remind them to test within 24 hours of returning to school. Include guidance on isolation requirements when testing positive.
- Work with your ESD Coordinator to procure the necessary inventory of take-home tests.
- Empower families and staff to use take-home rapid antigen tests at home before returning to school after Spring Break.
- Email/text families and staff (set automated reminders) before Spring Break and over the break to remind them to test within 24 hours of returning to school. Include guidance on isolation requirements when testing positive.
- Encourage families to order take-home tests free-of-charge through the DOH Say Yes! COVID Test program a week before Spring Break starts. (Families can now order up to ten tests per household!)
- Organize a back-to-school testing event.
- Contact your L2R Program Manager to discuss options for testing events.
Reach out to your L2R Program Manager to discuss how best to prepare for a return to the classroom after Spring Break.
What rising Covid-19 infections in the UK and Europe could mean for the US
In the UK, 86% of eligible people are fully vaccinated, and 67% are boosted, compared with 69% of those eligible vaccinated and 50% boosted in the US.
Two years ago schools shut down around the world. These are the biggest impacts
Washington health leaders look to prepare for possible next wave in COVID-19 pandemic
The prevention element looks to address ongoing outreach through things like vaccine caravans and clinics to close vaccine equity gaps and maintain the high rates of vaccination across the state. It also involves maintaining robust testing operations so that residents can stay as informed as possible about their own health.
Should parents be worried about vaccine effectiveness for 5- to 11-year-olds? An expert weighs in
“First, I want to urge everyone to keep these data in perspective. The vaccines in younger children still appear to protect against severe illness, and that’s the most important reason we get vaccinated: to prevent hospitalization and death,” Dr. Leana Wen, emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Pfizer-BioNTech seek U.S. OK for second COVID booster for 65 and older
Israel in late January said a fourth dose doubled protection against infection and increased protection against severe disease by 3 to 5 times compared to those who had received three shots, based on health ministry data.
What We Can Learn From America's Most Recent COVID-19 Vaccine Converts
One of the greatest predictors of a person’s vaccination status is whether those they love and trust are vaccinated. More than 90% of people who report having many vaccinated friends and family also say they are vaccinated, themselves. But among people who only have a few vaccinated family and friends, the rate drops to 55%, according to TIME’s analysis.
A covid surge in Western Europe has U.S. bracing for another wave
In all, about a dozen nations are seeing spikes in coronavirus infections caused by BA.2, a cousin of the BA.1 form of the virus that tore through the United States over the past three months.
Do masks in school affect kids' speech and social skills?
Amid the debate, a small but growing body of research is offering hints that masks do not have a significant impact on speech or social skills.