US surgeon general highlights importance of human connections during SF visit

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Surgeon General of the United States, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy was in San Francisco on Monday to speak about the importance of mental health after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If we do not have strong connections with one another, if we don't have trust, if we don't have a sense of community, it doesn't matter how good our vaccines are for COVID or how good our therapeutics," said Dr. Murthy.

During a town hall at Manny's, one of San Francisco's civic engagement spaces, Dr. Murthy addressed the crowd to speak about the importance of reconnecting with people again.

"I think it's really awesome for Dr. Murthy to come in to San Francisco which is very digital, first, and to bring another viewpoint, which is, it's not just about online because how do we move offline because we still have that need," said Rose Wang, San Francisco resident.

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"As the metaverse becomes bigger all of these things are going to get worse before they get better. So, I'm glad he is paying attention," said Jason Benn, San Francisco resident.

Dr. Murthy spoke about pandemic preparedness and said we are equipped to combat the new omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. These sub variants were recently detected in the U.S.

"Vaccines will still be effective particularly if people are boosted. We have good reason to believe that the treatments will also continue to be effective- we just need to understand until which degree," said Dr. Murthy.

One of the key tools to combat COVID are pharmaceuticals. Recently, the Biden Administration purchased 20 million courses of Paxlovid to help Americans recover from COVID.

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"Now we have an abundance of supply. What we want is for people to get these medicines and you can go to COVID.gov to find locations around you where you can get Paxlovid in test and treat sites," said Dr. Murthy.

We asked Dr. Murthy about children under 5 years old. That's the only group of Americans who are unable to get vaccinated.

Luz Pena: "You mentioned you have a daughter who is younger than 5 years old. Do you believe that by June there will be a vaccine authorized for children?"

Dr. Murthy: "I know the FDA is doing everything they can to make sure they get a vaccine for children under 5 as soon as possible" and added, "They don't have all the data from the companies that have run the trials. As soon as they get that data they are standing by ready to fully evaluate it so they can get those vaccines to kids. If and when that decision is made by the FDA and the CDC we will be ready to deliver those vaccines to children."

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