COVID-19 vaccine approved for children 5-11

Peninsula officials preparing clinics

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Pfizer’s vaccine for use in children 5- to 11-years-old, and now officials are awaiting final approval by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Western States Advisory group to be able to administer the vaccine to the new age group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to meet Tuesday to vote on recommending the vaccine, and the Western States group is also expected to meet early this week.

“Vaccinating younger children against COVID-19 will bring us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, said in a statement.

“Our comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the data pertaining to the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness should help assure parents and guardians that this vaccine meets our high standards.”

Locally, officials are working on plans for vaccination clinics for the new age group. It was unknown as of Friday how many of the children’s doses — which are a third of the older adult’s doses — the North Olympic Peninsula will receive in the first week, and parents should prepare for possible shortages in those vaccinations in the first week or so of vaccinations, said Dr. Allison Berry, health officer for Jefferson and Clallam counties.

In a response to a question from a viewer of her Friday morning briefing in Clallam County, Berry explained that no children have died from receiving Pfizer’s vaccine, while more than 600 children have died nationwide from the actual novel coronavirus.

No children have died from COVID-19 on the Peninsula.

Berry recommends parents get their kids vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible once approved, saying that it is a safe and effective vaccine and that she will have her own daughter vaccinated once she’s old enough.

Since February, about 74 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Jefferson County have been confirmed among unvaccinated residents. In Clallam County, 83 percent of new cases since February have been among unvaccinated residents, Berry and county public health data said.

According to the latest data from the state Department of Health, 80.5 percent of the population 12 and older in Jefferson County have started vaccinations, with 76.8 percent fully vaccinated.

Of the entire population, 74 percent have begun vaccination and 70.7 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

In Clallam County, 74.3 percent of the population 12 and older have started vaccinations, with 69.7 percent fully vaccinated.

Of the total population, 66 percent have begun vaccinations, with 61.9 percent fully vaccinated, according to the state’s dashboard.

A common piece of misinformation regarding the vaccines is that people who are vaccinated are just as likely to contract COVID-19 as those who are unvaccinated, and that is completely false, Berry said.

“If you were equally likely to get it, the percent of folks who test positive who are vaccinated would be the same percentage as folks who fully vaccinated in our community,” Berry said. “So, in Jefferson, 70 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

“If it really didn’t effect transmission at all, you would expect that 70 percent of our new cases would be among fully vaccinated residents, consistent with the numbers within the population; but, we see the opposite of that.”

New cases

Clallam County added 38 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, raising its total to 4,873 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.

Jefferson County confirmed five new cases on Friday, raising its total to 1,148 since the pandemic began, according to county public health data.

Clallam County recorded a rate of 329 cases per 100,000 population for the past two weeks as of Friday, staying in the low 300s plateau it has been at this week, according to public health data.

Jefferson County’s case rate decreased slightly to 250.78 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Oct. 27. Before that, the case rate was 253.92 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior as of Oct. 20, according to public health data.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at zjablonski@peninsuladailynews.com.

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