An estimated 6,000 children in Putnam County, ages five to 11, are now eligible for COVID-19 shots, and the Putnam County Department of Health has scheduled clinics to vaccinate them, along with providing boosters for eligible adults.
Afternoon clinics are scheduled for December 9 and 14, and will run from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Online registration and further information will be shared on the Health Department’s social media platforms and posted on its webpage at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/covid19/#vaxinfo.
The authorization of youngsters comes as most clusters of COVID cases in Putnam County have affected schools and daycare centers where children gather. The most impacted school districts last month were Mahopac and Putnam Valley. Fully vaccinated students of all ages, who remain asymptomatic, are not required to quarantine if exposed to a classmate or other person with COVID, allowing them to continue attending school and other activities.
“We are working closely with our local pediatricians in this phase of vaccination,” explained Kathleen Percacciolo, RN, supervising public health nurse. “We are offering these Pfizer vaccination opportunities to assist them in their campaign to vaccinate this five to 11-year-old age group. Putnam pediatricians have been and continue to be the lead vaccine providers for children. One day COVID vaccination will become as routine as other childhood immunizations. Now, these young children have the chance to join the more than 73,000 residents who have already received their first doses.”
In addition to providing first shots for children, the Health Department will offer booster shots and third doses to eligible adults at the same clinics. Eligibility depends on which shot was initially received.
Anyone who received Moderna or Pfizer is eligible for a booster if they are 65 years and older, or 18 years and older and have certain health conditions, or live or work in a high-risk setting. Those individuals must wait at least six months after their second dose.
Those recipients who are 12 years and older, with weakened immune systems, (for example from cancer treatments) are eligible for a third dose if it is at least two months from their last shot. If it has been over two months, they are eligible for a booster.
Booster and third doses are technically different and may vary clinically in the dosage. For individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson shot, and are 18 years of age and older, should get a booster if at least two months has passed since their shot.
The five to 11-year-olds will receive the Pfizer vaccine in two doses, spaced three weeks apart, like the timing for older recipients. Each of the two doses for the younger group will be equal to one-third the amount given to people 12 years of age and older.
The safety of the vaccine for five to 11-year-olds has been studied in more than 3,000 children and no serious side effects were detected in these clinical trials. Additionally, the vaccine proved to be 90.7 percent effective in preventing COVID in this age group. Trials are now underway looking at vaccination for children as young as six months of age.
Short-term side effects of the COVID vaccine including fever, chills, and body aches, have been common across all age categories with the COVID vaccines, most noticeably after the second dose. Similar side effects were also seen in the trials for the five to 11-year-olds, with younger recipients possibly more prone to these.
In COVID-vaccinated adolescents and young adults under 30 years of age, rare cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, have also been seen, most notably among males. However, infection with COVID-19 poses a higher risk for developing myocarditis than vaccination.
Moreover, multi-system inflammatory syndrome which is linked to the virus in pediatric cases is also much more common and can cause inflammation of the heart. There were no reported or observed cases of myocarditis in the recent trial data submitted to the FDA on the 3,000 plus children ages 5 to 11.