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Oswego County Health Department Will Vaccinate Children Aged 5 to 11 Years

OSWEGO COUNTY – The Oswego County Health Department has been working with schools and health care providers to establish a plan for child vaccinations in anticipation of approval from federal regulators.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized pediatric doses of the Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years and earlier this week, on Tuesday, Nov. 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voiced its consent as well.

“This decision has been months in the making,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “The vaccine will help protect kids from getting the infection and further reduce the spread of the virus.”

The pediatric Pfizer vaccine is one-third of the dose given to those aged 12 and above. It is administered in two shots, three weeks apart. According to the Pfizer-BioNTech study, this smaller dose is still nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 symptoms.

“The data submitted by Pfizer also shows that we can expect fewer side effects in children from the pediatric dose than we saw in teens and young adults who got the full dose,” said Oswego County Medical Director Christina Liepke, M.D. “Specifically, the rate of the most common side effects – headache, fatigue and muscle aches – was lower in 5- to 11-year-olds than they were in those aged 18 to 55 years.”

Across the United States, more than 1.9 million children aged 5 to 11 years have reportedly contracted COVID-19. Over 8,600 of them have been hospitalized with ​172 deaths and thousands of cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). 

“COVID-19 presents a greater risk to children – whether they are healthy or have underlying conditions like diabetes or obesity – than this vaccine does,” said Huang. “Greater even, than some of the other diseases that we routinely vaccinate children for. I urge parents to get their children vaccinated, even if a child has already had COVID-19.”

Dr. Liepke agreed, “COVID-19 has disrupted our children’s lives in immeasurable ways. For the last year and a half, it has affected their educational growth and mental health. I am thankful that we are now seeing progress in the form of a vaccine for this age group. I strongly encourage parents to contact their children’s health care provider if they have questions about getting their child vaccinated.” 

The Health Department worked with local school districts to develop and distribute a survey to parents to determine their interest in and suggestions for vaccinating their children. Using survey responses, the decision was made to hold pediatric vaccination clinics in select schools in the coming weeks. Plans will be announced when they are finalized.

The department is also collaborating with ConnextCare and primary health care providers to provide children’s vaccinations.

For more information, go to the Oswego County Health Department’s COVID-19 page at health.oswegocounty.com/covid-19 or call its COVID-19 Hotline at 315-349-3330. Phone lines are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

For information about emotional supports, visit the Oswego County Department of Social Services Division of Mental Hygiene at www.oswegocounty.com/mentalhygiene.

Under New York State Public Health Law, the Oswego County Health Department is the local public health authority regarding the COVID-19 pandemic response within the County of Oswego. The Oswego County Health Department works closely with New York State Department of Health regarding COVID-19 monitoring, response, and reporting.