The Briefing provides an at-a-glance view of some important developments in the information universe surrounding COVID-19. The views presented here are solely those of ECRI Horizon Scanning and have not been vetted by other stakeholders.

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The past year has been one of many rapid changes. A year ago, the November 12-20, 2020, PCORI Biweekly COVID-19 Scan reported that the United States was on the verge of receiving the first Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 for adults only, and many school districts were returning to remote learning to prevent spread in schools. Today, not only is a vaccine available for children between the ages of 5 and 11, and anyone older than 12, but many children have also returned to in-person schooling, and schools are employing strategies to promote high vaccination rates and limit exposure (see Topics to Watch).

Initial uptake of the children’s vaccine has been strong, with children younger than 12 years old representing 30.2% of all people receiving their first vaccination within the last 14 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some parents remain cautious, however. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey reported that 3 in 10 parents surveyed said they will not have their children between 5 and 17 years old vaccinated. Officials in some states hope that incentives, ranging from gift cards to college scholarships, might encourage parents to have their children vaccinated.

COVID-19 research has begun to shift its focus to children as well. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has begun a 3-year project that will follow the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the physical and mental health of 1000 children and young adults who previously tested positive for COVID-19.

School-located Vaccine Clinics to Prevent COVID-19 in K-12 School Students

At a Glance

  • Schools are hosting pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics to inoculate eligible students in kindergarten through high school.
  • These clinics have been set up in convenient locations such as gymnasiums, parking lots, and cafeterias to accommodate large numbers of school-aged children.
  • As of November 12, in Talent, Oregon, the school-based vaccine clinics have successfully inoculated 1500 COVID-19 doses for children between 5 and 11 years old across 3 school districts. Other school-based clinics across the country are also expediting their vaccination efforts.
  • In most states, students between the ages of 5 and 17 must have permission or consent from a legally authorized representative (usually a parent or guardian) to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Test-to-Stay Risk Mitigation Strategy to Increase In-person Learning Activities

At a Glance

  • Test-to-stay is a public health program being initiated at schools across the country to allow unvaccinated children and staff who have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2, but have tested negative to the virus, to continue in-person learning instead of quarantining.
  • Children, with parental permission, and staff are tested regularly after exposure (eg, days 1, 3, 5, and 7 before school) to monitor for symptoms and positive tests. Those with positive tests are sent home to quarantine until it is safe for them to return.
  • Pilot studies have found that only 1% to 2% of the children and staff tested after exposure were positive, indicating that testing strategies and proper COVID-19 guidelines can help limit its spread in schools.
  • The program is not yet recommended by the CDC. The government has noted that test-to-stay is a promising practice, however, and is working with jurisdictions to  understand its effectiveness more fully. 

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Commentary in this COVID-19 Scan reflects preliminary views of ECRI Horizon Scanning and internal ECRI stakeholders.
The information contained in this document has not been vetted by other stakeholders.

We welcome your comments on this Scan. Send them by email to [email protected].

Posted: December 3, 2021

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