While officials expect approval of Pfizer’s vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old early next week, North Olympic Peninsula parents should prepare for a possible short delay in the vaccine being available at pharmacies for that age group.
The state ordered 230,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine allocated for children to be delivered next week, but it is unknown how much of the initial delivery will be allocated to the Peninsula, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties.
“The next big hurdle after approval is ensuring that we have a delivery of pediatric vaccines in time,” Berry said. “For the first time in awhile, we’re going to dealing with potentially a shortage of vaccines for this pediatric population for that first week.
“We anticipate there will be adequate supplies within two weeks of approval, but we anticipate that there may be some early limitations on distribution just because this is a new dosed product — same Pfizer vaccine, but a different bottle and we need to get a new allocation of that.”
The doses for children of Pfizer’s vaccine is a third of the doses used for the older age groups. It will still be required that they have two doses taken three weeks apart, Berry said.
Officials are working on plans for mass vaccination clinics for the new age group once the vaccine is approved. Berry recommends parents have children vaccinated once it is approved.
She plans to have her daughter vaccinated once she’s old enough or if the vaccine is approved for younger ages, she said.
“I do recommend vaccinations for kids,” Berry said. “Looking at the data that was made available to the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) for this age range, we saw no serious side effects in kids.
“I think it’s important to remember that kids do get severely ill from COVID-19, just less frequently than adults, but it does still happen.”
More than 630 children have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. since the pandemic began and thousands have been hospitalized due to the disease, according to dashboard data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Of those, about 70 percent had underlying conditions such as asthma, but 30 percent didn’t have underlying conditions and some still had to be cared for in intensive care units, Berry said.
“We have a highly safe and effective vaccine. That is certainly quite a bit safer than getting COVID-19,” Berry said.
In addition in preparing for mass vaccination clinics for children, Jefferson County officials have booster dose clinics for Moderna planned in upcoming weekends. The Jefferson County Moderna clinics, booster shots for people 65 and older and for those 18 to 64 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19, will be on Nov. 6 and Nov. 13. Attendees must also have received their second shots more than six months ago if they received Moderna’s or Pfizer’s vaccines, or two months ago if they received Johnson & Johnson.
Both events have appointments from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Nov. 6 event will be at Chimacum School District, 91 West Valley Road. The Nov. 13 event will be at Blue Heron Middle School, 3939 San Juan Ave. in Port Townsend.
The Chimacum clinic on Nov. 6 will now have appointments from 9 a.m. to noon, a change announced Thursday.
Residents can sign up by going to jeffersoncountypublichealth.org/1429/COVID-19 or by calling the Department of Emergency Management Call Center at 360-344-9791.
A mix of unmet demand, lack of access to pharmacies, lack of time for parents to schedule and the potential delay in availability of the children doses led officials to schedule the morning clinic for Moderna, Berry said.
Originally, it was planned for the mornings on those two days to be Pfizer clinics for children, and that is still a possibility for the Nov. 13 clinic, Berry said.
Clallam County added 25 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, raising its total to 4,835 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.
Jefferson County confirmed one new case on Thursday, raising its total to 1,143 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.
Clallam County recorded a rate of 336 cases per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Thursday, staying in the low 300s range it has been at this week, according to public health data.
Jefferson County’s case rate increased slightly to 253.92 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Oct. 20. Before that, the case rate was 156.74 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Oct. 13, according to public health data.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]