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Improving vaccination coverage and offering vaccine to all school-age children allowed uninterrupted in-person schooling in King County, WA: Modeling analysis


  • Received: 24 January 2022 Revised: 25 February 2022 Accepted: 06 March 2022 Published: 01 April 2022
  • The rapid spread of highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants combined with slowing pace of vaccination in Fall 2021 created uncertainty around the future trajectory of the epidemic in King County, Washington, USA. We analyzed the benefits of offering vaccination to children ages 5–11 and expanding the overall vaccination coverage using mathematical modeling. We adapted a mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, calibrated to data from King County, Washington, to simulate scenarios of vaccinating children aged 5–11 with different starting dates and different proportions of physical interactions (PPI) in schools being restored. Dynamic social distancing was implemented in response to changes in weekly hospitalizations. Reduction of hospitalizations and estimated time under additional social distancing measures are reported over the 2021–2022 school year. In the scenario with 85% vaccination coverage of 12+ year-olds, offering early vaccination to children aged 5–11 with 75% PPI was predicted to prevent 756 (median, IQR 301–1434) hospitalizations cutting youth hospitalizations in half compared to no vaccination and largely reducing the need for additional social distancing measures over the school year. If, in addition, 90% overall vaccination coverage was reached, 60% of remaining hospitalizations would be averted and the need for increased social distancing would almost certainly be avoided. Our work suggests that uninterrupted in-person schooling in King County was partly possible because reasonable precaution measures were taken at schools to reduce infectious contacts. Rapid vaccination of all school-aged children provides meaningful reduction of the COVID-19 health burden over this school year but only if implemented early. It remains critical to vaccinate as many people as possible to limit the morbidity and mortality associated with future epidemic waves.

    Citation: Chloe Bracis, Mia Moore, David A. Swan, Laura Matrajt, Larissa Anderson, Daniel B. Reeves, Eileen Burns, Joshua T. Schiffer, Dobromir Dimitrov. Improving vaccination coverage and offering vaccine to all school-age children allowed uninterrupted in-person schooling in King County, WA: Modeling analysis[J]. Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering, 2022, 19(6): 5699-5716. doi: 10.3934/mbe.2022266

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  • The rapid spread of highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants combined with slowing pace of vaccination in Fall 2021 created uncertainty around the future trajectory of the epidemic in King County, Washington, USA. We analyzed the benefits of offering vaccination to children ages 5–11 and expanding the overall vaccination coverage using mathematical modeling. We adapted a mathematical model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, calibrated to data from King County, Washington, to simulate scenarios of vaccinating children aged 5–11 with different starting dates and different proportions of physical interactions (PPI) in schools being restored. Dynamic social distancing was implemented in response to changes in weekly hospitalizations. Reduction of hospitalizations and estimated time under additional social distancing measures are reported over the 2021–2022 school year. In the scenario with 85% vaccination coverage of 12+ year-olds, offering early vaccination to children aged 5–11 with 75% PPI was predicted to prevent 756 (median, IQR 301–1434) hospitalizations cutting youth hospitalizations in half compared to no vaccination and largely reducing the need for additional social distancing measures over the school year. If, in addition, 90% overall vaccination coverage was reached, 60% of remaining hospitalizations would be averted and the need for increased social distancing would almost certainly be avoided. Our work suggests that uninterrupted in-person schooling in King County was partly possible because reasonable precaution measures were taken at schools to reduce infectious contacts. Rapid vaccination of all school-aged children provides meaningful reduction of the COVID-19 health burden over this school year but only if implemented early. It remains critical to vaccinate as many people as possible to limit the morbidity and mortality associated with future epidemic waves.



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