Dr. Jerome Adams talks about COVID booster shots for kids under the age of 5

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dr. Jerome Adams, WISH-TV’s medical expert and a former U.S. surgeon general, talked Tuesday about the latest coronavirus news as well as the latest news on monkeypox cases reported in the U.S., a crisis level of health care in the U.S, and the importance of mental health.

The first topic was about Pfizer submitting data on COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5 and younger.

Adams said, “Well, it’s important for parents to understand that during the massive wave of omicron infection during the past winter, children younger than 5 were hospitalized at a rate five times the pandemic peak. That’s the context for this discussion that we’re having, and Pfizer’s vaccine was shown for children 6 months to 5 years of age to be 80% effective at preventing illness during the omicron wave, according to the preliminary data that was released yesterday. What’s important is they previously looked at two doses of vaccine, and it was only about 40% effective. That third dose kicked it up to 80% effective, and it’s based on a trial of over 1,500 children under the age of 5 who received the third shot at least two months after the second dose when omicron was the main variant in circulation. So that’s another key; this is during the time of the omicron wave.”


Adams noted that the cases are a big deal for Americans to pay attention to, but no need for worry.

“The numbers are still small. We want folks to be aware of the symptoms and reach out to their doctor if they have symptoms. These symptoms are typically flu-like — fever, chills, headache, muscle weakness — followed by a swelling in the lymph nodes, the area in your neck under your chin, and that’s what distinguishes it from smallpox.

“Why do I talk about smallpox? Because monkeypox is a much less severe cousin of smallpox. It’s spreading around the world. It’s typically been confined to Africa, but we now have more than 250 cases reported in 16 countries, according to the World Health Organization. It’s spread by close and prolonged contact with an infected individual. So, it’s not as contagious as smallpox, not as contagious as COVID. Again, not a reason to worry at this point, but it’s definitely something that should be on our radars. Remember if you wash your hands, if you’re cautious, if you cover your mouth when you cough, if you stay home when you’re sick and stay away from other sick people, that’s going to help you avoid monkeypox and a whole lot of other diseases out there, too.”

Report warns of health care worker burnout

“We’ll, we’re absolutely at crisis level in health care. We have over a half a million registered nurses anticipated to retire by the end of 2022. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects we’re going to need 1.1 million new registered nurses within the next five years. We’re also going to have a shortage, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges, of up to 140,000 positions, which is why the surgeon general, (Dr. Vivek H.) Murthy, put out this advisory saying that the burnout has reached crisis levels.

“Speaking of burnout, I do just want to say my heart really does out to the victims of that (Texas school) shooting. We know that people are burnt out across the board, not just clinicians. Kids are burnt out. Teachers are burnt out. Thoughts and prayers are good, they’re important, but we’ve got to do more than that. We really have to get serious about paying attention to mental health of everyone across the board, and paying attention to safer firearm ownership if we’re going to create a better world for our kids. This really hits me hard as a parent of three school-aged kids. It’s unacceptable, and we’ve got to do more than thoughts and prayers this time around,” Adams said.

Mental health crisis

“It’s absolutely been overlooked. Again, what we have is a mental health crisis in this country that started before COVID, that was made worse due to the isolation of the pandemic, the fear of the pandemic, Ukraine. You’ve got our kids hearing about the possibility of World War III. There’s a lot of things going on in society right now, and we haven’t paid enough attention to our overall mental health in the past; mental health and wellness. In addition to recognizing mental illness, two different ends of the spectrum and you see it manifest in substance misuse. You see it manifest and people acting out as has happened with several shootings. Again, we’ve got to reconnect the head with the rest of the body and look at mental health the same way we look at physical health,” Adams said.