“This is a younger wave” Kids under 12 making up a larger portion COVID caseload

Local health unit says fourth wave has hit a plateau

It appears the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit a plateau. However, many kids are bearing the brunt of this wave.

Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, noted that caseloads have not been rising exponentially day-to-day. “It is good news to see a plateauing or slight reduction rather than a continued steep rise in cases, both for Simcoe-Muskoka and for the province as a whole,” he said.

“I think it’s too soon to tell where the course may take us from here,” he conceded.

Gardner pointed out data shows this fourth wave is hitting the public differently than the previous waves. “The proportion of our cases over the last week that are children under the age of 12 has increased to 18 per cent,” he said. “That is actually about double of what we’ve seen in previous waves. This does speak to children making up a larger proportion of our cases. This is a younger wave of COVID-19 than in the past.”

With more and more cases among children who are too young to get vaccinated, Gardner says that’s all the more reason for the rest of us to roll up our sleeves. “I encourage those who are around children who are too young to receive immunization to get immunized,” he said. “There are many other reasons why such people should be immunized, but this is yet another one. This is a way of protecting younger children from exposure and becoming cases.”

While protecting our youth may be reason enough for some, Gardner does note the vaccine really does protect the individual as well. “From our data, we note that people who are non-immunized are 11 times more likely to contract COVID-19 compared with those who are fully immunized, and they are 37 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital compared with people who are fully immunized.”

“In the past week, 22 per cent of our cases were breakthrough cases. So, 22 per cent of those with COVID-19 had been fully immunized, and that is up from last week,” Gardner added. “We do expect that, as a proportion of all of our cases, breakthrough cases will continue to rise as we progress in immunizing a greater and ever greater number of people over time, leaving fewer people unimmunized to become cases.”

“That does not in any way take away from the effectiveness of the vaccine or the fact that we found that if you are unimmunized, you’re 11 times more likely to become a case than if you are fully immunized,” he concluded.