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Monterey County prepares for COVID-19 vaccinations of kids age 5-11 – Monterey Herald

SALINAS — The Monterey County Health Department says it is preparing for the rollout of vaccinations for 5-11-year-olds and that preordering is now underway for eligible vaccinators.

Once the vaccine is approved for children of that age by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which could happen within the next few weeks, Monterey County vaccine service providers will begin administering the first allocation of 5,100 pediatric doses and will be able to order more later.

“Monterey County Public Health is working with providers to get orders in to roll out slowly,” said Monterey County Health Department spokeswoman Karen Smith. “Clinics are starting to contact parents of patients in that age range.”

The usual providers of vaccinations to children such as pediatricians, family practitioners, pharmacies and clinics will be in line to receive the pediatric doses.

“There will be bigger clinics as time goes on and vaccine become more plentiful,” said Smith. “Generally, the feedback is positive.”

Smith said with that segment of the population on the verge of becoming eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, more people become protected.

According to Monterey County Assistant Director of Public Health Kristy Michie, the Monterey County Health Department’s Public Health Bureau will offer vaccines for those age 5-11 at community-based vaccine clinics scheduled throughout Monterey County. Visit www.montereycountycovid19.com for a list of clinic locations.

“Monterey County Public Health will begin vaccinating 5-11-year-olds as soon as the FDA, CDC, and Western States Scientific Study Review Workgroup provide their authorizations and recommendations and vaccine has been received,” said Michie.

Monterey County was scheduled to present the first of two community virtual town halls on vaccinations for children on Thursday night “so that families can get accurate information about these issues,” said the announcement from the county.

The next virtual town hall will be Oct. 28 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at montereycty.zoom.us/s/95435476205.

“At this time, Montage Health does not plan to offer mass vaccination clinics to the public as vaccines for children in this age group will be available through pediatric doctor offices, pharmacies and public health clinics,” said Montage Health spokeswoman Monica Sciuto. “Additional approval steps have to be met before any vaccines are administered to children 5-11 years of age. We believe this approval will happen by the end of this week or early next week.”

Dr. Allen Radner, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System chief medical officer and Salinas Valley Medical Clinic CEO, said that after 10 months of safe and effective adult vaccine availability, vaccinating the 5-11-year-old population against COVID-19 is an important milestone in achieving a higher level of protection for the community.

“We are preparing an effective and efficient process to hold mass clinics as soon as we receive final federal approval,” said Radner. “The health care system in conjunction with Salinas Valley Medical Clinic will be administering vaccine to eligible children similar to the successful clinics we held for adults. We encourage parents to take advantage of these anticipated opportunities in the coming weeks.”

Natividad hospital Director of Pediatric Services Dr. Christopher Carpenter said that the most important thing to know about the vaccine for children is that they have been rigorously tested.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics’ mission is to protect children and they would only advocate for something that is very effective and safe,” said Carpenter. “If there’s even a small chance that it would be harmful to kids, they would not recommend it.”

Five- to 11-year-old children make up about 10% of Monterey County’s population.

Millions of 12-17-year-olds have been vaccinated throughout the U.S.

“The vaccines have proven to be very safe and effective and will prevent kids from getting sick and having to miss school and other important activities,” said Montage Health Medical Director Dr. Martha Blum, who specializes in infection prevention. “Although younger kids have lower rates of severe disease, they can still get quite ill or develop other complications, and even if kids are only mildly ill or asymptomatic, they can be a source for continued spread of the coronavirus to vulnerable people in the community. Vaccination will protect our kids and help bring the pandemic to an end.”

Monterey County is one of a handful of California counties with a “moderate” rate, or the second tier of four levels for community transmission, as reported by the CDC.

As of Monday, the Monterey County key COVID-19 metrics web page reports the case rate is 4.9 per 100,000 and the test positivity rate is 2.4% with 14 current hospitalizations. A week ago, the county’s case rate was 6.3 per 100,000, its test positivity rate was 2.8% and there were 24 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Two weeks ago the county’s case rate was 8.2 per 100,000, test positivity was 3.2%, and 23 individuals were hospitalized. At the end of September, the case rate was 9.4 per 100,000, test positivity was 3.3%, and there were 33 hospitalizations from the disease.

The California Immunization Registry reports that 83% of Monterey County residents 12 years of age and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 75% are fully vaccinated.

The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office currently reports 16 active cases of COVID-19 with zero hospitalizations among its population of 878. Last week the Sheriff’s Office reported 34 cases, with two hospitalized within its 895 population. Two weeks ago it had 130 active cases, two hospitalizations, and a population of 903.

“We’re making progress,” said Smith. “It’s exciting but it takes everybody doing their part. It makes a big difference.”

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