The deaths of two New Braunfels men, one in his 60s on Dec. 8 and the other in his 80s on Dec. 3, both at local hospitals, are the latest COVID-19 fatalities reported by Comal County health officials, bringing the death toll to 472 since the pandemic arrived locally in March 2020.
As of Thursday, 73,227 people who tested positive for the virus have died in Texas.
The county reported 144 new cases this week, bringing the total number of virus cases to 20,489.
The COVID-19 patient population in Comal County’s hospitals remains in the single digits. Facilities reported caring for seven COVID-19 patients on Friday, unchanged from a week ago, with one in intensive care and one on a ventilator. According to county health officials, 100% of those patients were unvaccinated.
Not all patients hospitalized in Comal County are necessarily county residents.
The regional hospitalization rate, which covers the 22-county area that includes both Comal and Guadalupe counties, stood at 3.5% on Friday, a slight increase from the 3.1% mark reported a week ago.
According to state data, 68.99% of Comal County residents eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine have had at least one shot as of Friday, with 61.1% of those fully vaccinated. The rates in neighboring Guadalupe County, which has a portion of the city of New Braunfels in it, stood at 62.04% and 54.93%, respectively.
The statewide rates stand at 69.77% and 60.04%, respectively.
A total of 37.1 million doses have been administered statewide, including booster shots. So far, 3.5 million people have received booster shots.
Pediatric vaccines available
Following recent recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Drug Administration, Texas MedClinic, Walgreens, H-E-B, CVS, Walmart, Comal County Public Health and other health care providers continue to offer the Pfizer COVID-19 pediatric vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the pediatric vaccine, which contains the same adult and adolescent formulation but is a third of the dose given with a smaller needle.
“It’s one more tool in our medicine kit to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Texas MedClinic Chief Operating Officer and practicing physician Dr. David Gude. “And it comes just in time for the holiday season when we have consistently seen a rise in COVID-19 cases.”
The pediatric vaccine is a two-dose regimen given three weeks apart. A parent or guardian must be present for the vaccination at most locations. As with the adult vaccination process, there is a 15-minute observation period required to monitor for allergic reactions. Pediatric patients should receive a COVID-19 vaccination card.
Gude recommends that parents bring a special toy or activity for the child to ease anxiety, as serving the youngest of patients requires a little extra compassion, creativity and calm.
“Our doctors, nurses and medical technicians know it can be stressful for the child and the parents, and we are prepared,” he said. “We will be communicating to parents what to expect, including side effects from the vaccine, which are similar to those in adults and adolescents and include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, and possible fever and chills. All side effects should generally clear in 48 hours.”
At most locations, a reservation is required and appointments are available online at the provider’s website.
The county’s public health department is also offering COVID-19 pediatric vaccines to residents by appointment. Appointments can be made by calling 830-221-1150.
The health department and other health care providers are also administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for those 18 and older and Pfizer vaccine for anyone 5 years and older, as well as boosters by appointment. Those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and qualify for a third dose can also call to schedule an appointment for a vaccine.
For more information about the pediatric dosage and what to expect after the vaccine, including possible side effects, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html.
To find other locations where vaccines are available for both adults and children, the CDC has set up a national vaccine finder to search by zip code at www.vaccines.gov.
The Texas Tribune contributed to this story.