Health Department set to receive 300 Pfizer doses to give to children 5-11
Published 8:16 am Friday, October 29, 2021
The Stanly County Health Department is planning to receive around 300 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds next week and as long as the FDA and the CDC approve of the vaccine, the department could administer doses to children by the week of Nov. 8.
“Whenever we’re given the green light, we are prepared to provide the vaccines,” said Stanly County Health Director David Jenkins. Additional doses would be delivered to the health department in the coming weeks.
Data from Pfizer showed that the vaccine had a 90.7 percent efficacy rate in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in a clinical trial of children 5-11.
The Pfizer dose for younger children would be one-third of the strength given to people 12 and older, with two shots given three weeks apart.
During a press conference Wednesday afternoon, NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said there will be about 750 locations across the state that will offer vaccines to children, including local health departments, pharmacies and pediatricians. The state will receive about 400,000 doses by the end of next week.
Younger children in Stanly would start getting their shots at a time when coronavirus cases are dropping sharply across the county. The health department reported 119 new cases last week, a notable decrease from the 345 new cases that were reported a month earlier.
Severe illness and death due to Covid is extremely uncommon among children, though certainly not impossible. Of the 117 people hospitalized in North Carolina, as of Oct. 22, five percent are 17 years and younger, according to state health data. Additionally, 10 people 17 and younger in the state have died after contracting the coronavirus.
Since July, when the delta variant first appeared in Stanly, there have been 998 pediatric cases, which have accounted for 26 percent of all cases during that time, according to data from the health department.
Vaccinations for younger children would provide them with a layer of protection now that masks are no longer required within the school system. The school board voted to make them optional last week due to the county’s percent positivity rate having dropped below 7.9 percent, the threshold agreed upon by the board during its August meeting, when the mask requirement first went into effect. The rate is around 6 percent, according to state data.
“Without masks, that age group has no means of protecting themselves from Covid,” Jenkins said. “Once we can get some of those children vaccinated that want to be vaccinated, they will have that protection in place where they likely will not get seriously ill.”
Jenkins said he is already prepared for the chance that school quarantines and positive cases will increase in the coming weeks with masks now optional, especially with large groups gathering for the holidays. The department recently hired an additional public health education specialist, which should help bolster its ranks, and Jenkins said the school system has been proactive in acquiring nursing aides to assist with contract tracing.
“I feel like we’re prepared as much as we can be, we just have to see how it plays out,” Jenkins said.
Providing vaccines to younger children will also help improve Stanly’s vaccination rates, which have been on the decline over the past few weeks as the overall environment has improved. Forty percent of all people in the county are fully vaccinated and 43 percent have received at least one dose, according to state health data. Though doses for children 12 to 17 have been available since May, only 20 percent of the population has gotten the shot.
While most vaccinations have largely dried up in recent weeks, Jenkins noted people are still coming in for booster shots.
“Right now we have more demand than supply for some of our boosters,” he said.
Besides the health department, vaccines are available in 12 other locations across the county, including Medical Pharmacy of Albemarle, Moose Pharmacy of Locust, RHA Health Services, various Walgreens and CVS locations and the two Wal-Marts.