Bill Gephardt Podcast: Top U of U Health expert Dr. Andrew Pavia, on protecting kids from Delta variant, why new vaccines are safe, effective

Dr. Andrew Pavia, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health and director of Hospital Epidemiology at Primary Children's Hospital addresses the threat posed to Utah's children by the Delta variant and why the vaccines are safe and effective. Photo: Bill Gephardt Show Podcast/Gephardt Daily

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Nov. 25, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) —  Dr. Andrew Pavia, one of Utah’s top physicians, has spent a lifetime engaged in the frontline battle against emerging infectious diseases, especially those impacting children.

As chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health and director of epidemiology at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, he’s globally recognized as an expert in vaccine-preventable diseases, including influenza, and he has some straightforward information for Utah parents to consider heading into the holiday winter season. 

“Delta has changed the ballgame and changed it in dramatic ways for children,” he said during in an interview on the Bill Gephardt Show podcast. “With the emergence of the Delta variant, children have been struck very hard by COVID, which is very different from last year.

“Now, children don’t get very sick as often as adults, that’s totally true, but what’s a myth, that most people have swallowed, is that they never get sick, that the risk is very, very low.”

The numbers bear Pavia out. He relayed in a recent news conference that more than 23,000 Utah children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since August, 10,000 of them ages 5 to 11.

Of the eight to 10 young patients arriving at Primary Children’s Hospital each day during the autumn surge, Pavia said, roughly half required intensive care.

Pavia believes much of the suffering this fall and winter could have been avoided, had simple preventive health measures, like wearing masks and social distancing in schools and businesses, not been politicized and ultimately banned by Utah’s political leaders.

He fears the same sort of messaging surrounding health mandates has blunted Utahns’ enthusiasm for receiving the life-saving vaccines, even though they have been proven safe and effective.

“Our leaders have not stepped forward to say, ‘yes, you’re going to get mad at me, but the right thing to do is to require masks in school,’ and ‘yes, you’re going to get mad at me, but the right thing to do is go back to requiring masks in indoor places,’ and ‘yes, you may be mad at me, but we expect anyone in healthcare to protect their patients and get vaccinated.’

“Those are the basic things we have to be doing, and we should step up and say it.”

To learn more about Pavia’s outlook on the ongoing pandemic and his take on vaccine safety, as well as his view of the terrible toll being taken on Utah’s frontline medical workers as they labor to save Utahns’ lives, click on the podcast above.

Andrew Pavia’s Career:

Dr. Andrew Pavia’s career began in the early 1980s, when he worked in clinic and research settings during the early days of the AIDS epidemic. After graduating from medical school at Brown University, he was named chief resident at Dartmouth’s Hitchcock Medical Center, before becoming an epidemic intelligence officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the course of his career, Pavia has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles, including studies on the epidemiology of influenza and other vaccine-preventable respiratory diseases. To learn more about Dr. Pavia’s background, click here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here