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Many families, schools, and healthcare providers have been long awaiting the approval of a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. On November 3, 2021 it was announced that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use amongst children ages 5-11. This announcement follows recommendation and approval by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the CDC, the Western States Scientific Work Group, and the Washington State Department of Health.
Between September 1st and October 27th, 2021, there were 649 children ages 5-19 who tested positive for COVID-19 in Ferry, Pend Oreille, and Stevens Counties. While severe illness was not as common among this age group, the indirect impacts were substantial and included disruption in their education, harm to their mental and emotional health, diminished access to critical medical services, and increased risk of spread to household members, caregivers, and other close contacts. By choosing to vaccinate your children, the risk of infections and impacts suffered from COVID-19 is greatly reduced amongst this entire age group and their families.
COVID-19 amongst children continues to strain childcare centers and schools. Together, childcare and K-12 school outbreaks make up the largest category of COVID-19 outbreaks in Washington State (excluding outbreaks in healthcare settings). Since the beginning of the pandemic, Washington childcare facilities and K-12 schools have experienced 965 outbreaks, which account for 17% of all non-healthcare outbreaks.
Choosing to vaccinate children will reduce the likelihood that they will spread COVID-19 to other people, including household or family members who may be at risk. With outbreaks occurring in childcare and school settings, getting more children vaccinated will limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the number of times a child must be absent from school to quarantine or isolate at home. Individuals who are fully vaccinated are not required to quarantine unless they are symptomatic or test positive themselves.
Vaccination is important for children because like adults, children can spread COVID-19 whether they show symptoms or not. In the U.S., one child loses a primary or secondary caregiver for every four COVID-19 deaths. This statistic equates to one in every 500 children losing a caregiver, whether that caregiver was their parent, custodial grandparent, or grandparent caregiver.
Northeast Tri County Health District (NETCHD) encourages you to reach out to your child’s healthcare provider with any questions you have about vaccinating your child against COVID-19. If talking with a healthcare provider is not an option for you, please reach out to NETCHD at 509-684-2262 with any questions you have. Today, November 4, there will be a town hall event hosted on YouTube and Facebook from 4:00 - 5:45 pm PST to help answer parents’ questions about the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.
The pediatric vaccine has arrived in our three-county area. NETCHD’s role will be to act as a vaccine depot for the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine and through this role, NETCHD will distribute the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine to local providers for administration. NETCHD is focusing its own vaccination efforts on booster, first, and second dose clinics for people ages 12 and up. At this time, NETCHD is not aware of any local schools offering COVID-19 vaccinations. In order to schedule a vaccination appointment for your children, NETCHD recommends you reach out to your child’s primary care provider just as you would for any other childhood vaccine.