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By Jorge Casuso
October 18, 2022 -- As COVID cases continue to drop in Santa Monica and across LA County, public health officials are recommending new booster shots for children, a policy increasingly opposed by European governments.
A press release issued Friday by LA County Health reads "New Updated Fall COVID-19 Booster Approved for Children as Young as 5 Years Old" and announced that 625 sites are planning to provide the shot as early as Wednesday.
"Public Health recommends all eligible residents receive their updated Fall boosters before the winter season because immunity from earlier vaccines, and/or getting infected, wanes over time," the press release said.
So far, nationwide data show that less than 5 percent of those who qualify have received the new bivalent booster, which requires having taken at least two doses of the COVID vaccine.
That currently disqualifies the majority of LA County children who need to have completed their primary vaccine series at least two months before taking the booster, according to County Health officials.
"Out of the nearly 900,000 children ages 5-11 in LA County, there are over 500,000 children that have not yet received their primary vaccine series," Health officials said.
Denmark has stopped administering first injections to those under 18 and has started limiting vaccines to those under 50 unless they are at high risk of severe COVID.
"Children and adolescents rarely become severely ill from the Omicron variant of covid-19," the Danish Health Authority said on its website.
"A very limited number of children at particularly higher risk of becoming severely ill will still be offered vaccination based on an individual assessment by a doctor."
Starting October 31, Sweden will stop recommending that children between the ages of 12 and 17 get vaccinated, citing the "very low risk" for the group. And last month, Britain stopped vaccinating healthy children under 11.
The reversal in policies came after a peer reviewed study published in the general medical journal "The Lancet" showed COVID booster shots can harm the immune system and cause adverse effects, a finding backed to the European Medicines Agency.
LA County Health officials are bucking the growing trend.
"A child can receive their primary vaccine series now and then receive the bivalent booster two months after," officials said in the Friday press release.
"These updated Fall COVID-19 boosters will provide a significant amount of protection against Omicron during the upcoming winter holidays."
LA County has been seeing a steady drop in confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the data.
As of Friday, the 7-day average case count in the county of more than 10 million was 946, down from 1,138 cases reported the previous week, a 17 percent decrease.
Deaths, which typically lag hospitalizations by several weeks, remained relatively stable at 10 deaths reported each day this past week, Health officials said.
In Santa Monica, there were 51 coronavirus cases reported last week, down from a weekly record 1,902 cases in early January. No virus-related deaths were reported last week.
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