The state health department says a Virginia child in the Rappahannock Health District died due to the virus.

RICHMOND-For the second time since the pandemic started, a Virginia child has died due to COVID-19. The Virginia Health Department made the announcement Thursday, saying the death happened in the Rappahannock Area Health District. 

State officials said they wouldn’t release the child’s exact age, location or anything else about the case, out of respect for the family. They also issued a warning, asking residents to consider putting their masks back on. 

“We have made so much progress in these past months against this virus, but a tragic event like the death of this young child is a stark reminder that our work continues,” said Virginia Health Commissioner Norman Oliver. “Even as many of the restrictions of the past year on gathering and mask-wearing are no longer in place, we urge everyone to take precautions to protect themselves and those around them.”

The main concern right now involves the Delta variant of the virus. The WHO traced the earliest documented sample of the Delta variant to Oct. 2020 in India. On April 4, the WHO moved its status to a variant of Interest. By May 11, WHO moved it up to a variant of concern. As of July 2, 67 Virginians had been infected by the Delta version. Here’s where it gets concerning for parents. Four of those 67 were in the 0 to 9-year-old age range. That’s not a rare occurrence either. Despite what social media says, the COVID-19 virus has infected children. Since the pandemic started, the virus has infected 33,126 Virginia children in that age group. Out of that number, 259 ended up in the hospital. 

A Call For Vaccinations 

“We urge everyone age 12 and older to get vaccinated [as soon] as possible,” Oliver said. 

That part about age is key. Children under 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated. Even under an emergency basis, Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines haven’t been tested enough to see what results they would have on young children. 

That won’t change anytime soon. Pfizer officials don’t expect to have a children’s version ready for CDC approval until at least September. Moderna doesn’t have an ETA when their version could be ready. 

As a result, the CDC and Virginia Health agree that the best way to protect children from the virus is to make sure they wear face masks. That’s why masks are still mandatory indoors at all Virginia schools. 

Overall, Virginia appears to be in good shape with vaccinations. Seventy percent of residents have received at least one shot. However, there are still several problem areas, with four counties still under 45%. Lee County is the worst, with only 39.8% of residents getting the vaccine. Carroll County is close behind at 40.9%, with Patrick County at 41.1% and Prince George County at 43.4%. 

Two Big Concerns

There are two concerns keeping some residents from getting the vaccine. First, they want to know if the vaccine will protect them against the Delta version. The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no. While proven effective, none of the COVID vaccines guarantee 100% immunity against COVID-19.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective at preventing symptomatic disease. Moderna proves 94.1% effective for those with no prior COVID-19 infections, dropping to 86.4% for people ages 65 and older. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine boasts 72% overall efficacy and 86% efficacy against severe disease in the United States.

Those with full vaccination status have a lesser chance of catching the Delta variant, but it’s not impossible.

A group of Oxford University researchers studied antibodies in the blood of fully vaccinated individuals. They focused on whether or not the vaccines neutralized the Delta and Kappa variants.

The group recently published their findings in a journal called Cell. They found “no evidence of widespread [infection], suggesting that the current generation of vaccines will provide protection against the B.1.617 lineage.”

That’s the first concern. The second is the fact some teens and young adults developed an inflammatory heart condition after being vaccinated. A Centers for Disease Control advisory panel said that data suggests a “likely association” between the vaccines and the heart inflammation, called myocarditis. . 

The CDC monitored 1,200 cases of heart inflammation. They found more than 800 cases happened after teens took the second doses of the vaccine. To be clear, the CDC report says teens should still get the vaccine, as the inflammation cases are mostly mild. Also, the benefits “still clearly outweigh the risks,” the report says.