By Diane Lee, Public Information Officer, Garrett County Health Department
The Garrett County Health Department, along with Maryland Department of Health are currently making plans for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines to 5-11-year-olds.
Garrett County County Public Schools (GCPS) in collaboration with the Garrett County Health Department (GCHD) are offering free COVID-19 vaccination clinics for children 5 -11 years old on Monday, November 15, 2021, at Northern Middle School from 3:00 pm. to 6:00 p.m, and at Southern Middle School on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. Students must be accompanied by their parents/guardians. For more information contact the Garrett County Health Department by calling 301-334-7777 or contact your child’s school nurse.
“We look forward to be able to supply this protection against COVID-19 to those who are 5-11 years old,” said Dr. Jennifer Corder, Garrett and Allegany County Deputy Health Officer, and Board-Certified Pediatrician. “Although we know that this age group is less likely to have an adverse outcome if they get the virus, COVID-19 has resulted in the deaths of more than 700 children in the USA since the start of the pandemic. If we can prevent anymore deaths to any age group, then that’s what we should do!”
At the end of September, Pfizer announced the results of a Phase 2/3 trial in which more than 2,000 children age 5-11 years old received a two-dose regimen of the COVID-19 vaccine equivalent to one third of an adult dose. The results of the trial showed:
- a strong immune response in participants who were 5-11 years old (95%) one month after the second dose
- an immune response equal to that of partipants who were 16 - 25 years old
- the vaccine was well tolerated, with few side effects
“As with any vaccine, there are safeguards in place to keep track of any possible health problems associated with the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Corder. One of those safeguards, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) accepts and analyzes reports of possible health issues – also called ‘adverse events’ – after a vaccination is administered.
“It is helpful to look at the history of flu-related pediatric deaths reported to the CDC in comparison to the more than 700 COVID-19 pediatric related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic,” Dr. Corder said. “From the 2004-2005 season through the 2019-2020 season, flu-related deaths in children reported during regular flu seasons have ranged from 37 to 199 deaths. (During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, 358 pediatric flu-related deaths were reported to CDC from April 2009 to September 2010).
“Any death, of any age person, from any disease is too many,” Dr. Corder said, “so it’s important that we get as many people as possible in all eligible age ranges vaccinated against COVID-19, and against the flu. We owe it to ourselves, to our families, to our friends, and even to strangers. It’s one thing we can do to reduce the spread of these diseases and the deaths.”
Once fully vaccinated, children will not have to be quarantined from school after an exposure to a case of COVID unless they have symptoms. This is an opportunity to keep these children in school and relieve many of the challenges facing children, families, and teachers due to children being quarantined.