Pott. County Health Dept. addresses rising COVID-19 cases among younger populations ahead new school year

Pott. County Health Dept.

SHAWNEE, Okla. – The most recent COVID-19 epidemiology report found that 38% of all new COVID cases involved Oklahoma’s youth (15-24 years) and young adult (25-34 years) populations. Both age groups, which currently have the lowest vaccination rates in the state, are especially at risk for new versions of the virus, like the Delta variant.

A COVID-19 test.

Oklahoma is seeing the number of infections among this unprotected group grow along with increased overall hospitalizations and deaths. Young adults, school-aged children, and their parents are among this unprotected group, so it is important to consider the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine when making plans for the upcoming school year.

As of Jun 30, 2021, an estimated 38% of persons 12-49 years of age have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccination compared to an estimated 75% of persons 65+ years who are fully vaccinated. Of all the individuals in Oklahoma who are fully vaccinated, only 0.071% of them have experienced a breakthrough case.

In addition to the significantly decreased risk of getting COVID-19, vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine out of work, school, sports, or activities after close exposure to someone with COVID-19. Though masked individuals who have not been vaccinated may not have to quarantine in certain circumstances, the COVID-19 vaccination provides the best protection against severe illness.

“The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19, including more transmissible variants like the Delta variant, is to get vaccinated. It may not seem like a priority when you’re young, but COVID can cause severe illness or hospitalization at any age,” Jackie Kanak, Regional Director at the Pottawatomie County Health Department, said. “We’ve seen the impact vaccines have had on our community and hope to empower unprotected individuals to make the best decision for themselves and their health as we head into a new school year.”

As students and staff gear up to go back to school, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Oklahoma State Department of Education have issued guidance for returning. Five key prevention strategies are noted to help decrease the risk of transmission and ensure students have fewer interruptions throughout the year:

Prioritize: Universal and correct use of masks

Prioritize: Physical distancing and/or use of student/staff grouping (cohorting)

Handwashing and respiratory etiquette

Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities

Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine

For more information about COVID-19 in Oklahoma, please visit www.oklahoma.gov/covid19.