Federal and state officials have approved vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 — but it may take days and weeks to meet initial demand.
“Parents can breathe a sigh of relief that their younger kids can now be vaccinated against the deadly COVID-19 virus,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news conference last week. “This gets us a step closer to having the entire population of Washington eligible for the vaccine. And a step closer to finding our way out of this pandemic.”
The vaccine is found to be safe and more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in younger children, federal and state health officials said.
“As a father and as a physician, I have been eagerly awaiting the day I can get my children vaccinated,” state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah said. “There are nearly 680,000 kids ages 5 to 11 in Washington. Vaccinating this younger age group will help protect them, keep students in the classroom, and bring us one step closer to ending this pandemic.”
However, the state is expected to get roughly 315,000 doses for kids in the next few weeks, with around 16,000 doses expected to be delivered to Snohomish County during this first week. The county expects 6,000-10,000 pediatric doses a week thereafter.
With about 75,000 children 5-11 years of age in Snohomish County, it will take awhile to meet demand, health officials said.
“We’ve all waited many months for this, but it might be another couple of weeks before everyone who wants a vaccine can get one,” Snohomish Health District officials said in a news release last week.
It may take a few days before appointments appear on the state’s vaccine finder website and on pharmacy websites.
“Even then, the available supply of vaccine simply won’t allow for every child to get vaccinated right away,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “I know that after waiting so long for this opportunity, many parents are frustrated at not being able to get their child vaccinated right away. Have faith and keep trying every couple of days.”
Across the country, COVID-19 cases in children ages 5 to 11 make up nearly 40% of all cases in adolescents 18 and younger. While it is true children often have more mild cases of COVID-19 compared to adults, they can become very sick and spread it to others.
The Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is administered as a two-dose primary series, three weeks apart. The pediatric vaccine is a smaller 10-microgram dose compared to the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 and older, which is 30 micrograms. Side effects reported in the clinical trial were generally mild to moderate and included sore arm, fatigue, headache, chills, fever, and nausea, with most going away within a day or two.
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said he’s also directed county staff to explore any opportunities to partner with school districts to make sure families have swift access once COVID vaccine is recommended for all school-aged kids.
“We’ve got to remember that COVID-19 remains a significant threat to the health and safety of our residents and is really a barrier to full recovery for our businesses and workers,” Somers said. “So, it is vitally important that we continue our efforts.”
Meanwhile, for vaccine appointments for children, officials said people should contact their medical provider or visit vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.
Local COVID cases
Cases of COVID-19 in the Stanwood-Camano community ticked downward last week, but still remain high. The data suggest that COVID infections in the county are plateauing, Spitters said.
“The fifth wave is unlikely to be the last,” Spitters said.
In the Stanwood ZIP code, there were 95 new COVID-19 cases reported last week — up from 53 the week before, according to the Snohomish Health District.
In Snohomish County, the COVID case rate decreased to 362 cases per 100,000 residents from Oct. 24-Nov. 6, the Snohomish Health District reported Monday, Nov. 8.
Camano recorded 20 new cases last week, the fewest number of new cases since early August, according to Island County Public Health.
Combined, Stanwood and Camano cases recorded last week totaled 115. Since Aug. 1, the Stanwood-Camano area has seen 1,683 COVID cases. In the 17 months prior, the community had recorded 1,792 cases.
In Island County, the COVID case rate decreased to 198 infections per 100,000 residents from Oct. 21-Nov. 3, Island County Public Health officials said Nov. 4.
Stanwood-Camano School District reported 15 new COVID cases detected from Oct. 27-Nov. 2 requiring 45 people to quarantine — the fewest number of new cases so far this school year. No classes were in remote learning.
Island County health officials said rapid-antigen testing will be available 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, at Skagit Regional Clinic, 127 Camano Drive.