A sign points to the South Peninsula Hospital COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinic on Bartlett Street on Monday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Vaccination clinics offered in following CDC approval for young children.

As CDC moves to vaccines for children, Vance says ‘NO COVID-19 Vax for MY children’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Tuesday recommended use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children age 5-11 years of age under emergency use authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA made its approval last Friday. Later on Tuesday, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., endorsed the advisory committee’s recommendation. That allows 28 million more American children to be vaccinated and providers to begin vaccinations “as soon as possible,” according to the CDC.

In anticipation of the final CDC approval, and to aid in event planning, South Peninsula Hospital announced on Tuesday that a limited number appointments can now be made for children ages 5-11 years old at a Saturday, Nov. 6 mass vaccination clinic at Homer High School, according to an email from Public Information Office Derotha Ferraro. Appointment times start at 9 a.m. These appointments are for the first of a two-dose series of Pfizer-BioNtech and can be made at www.sphosp.org, with 300 doses allocated. Ferraro said the vaccination will be in a large area with young and old receiving shots, and it may not be ideal for all children.

A parent or guardian must be present at the appointment and sign the consent forms. The child should not come if they are experiencing any sudden or unexplained COVID-like symptoms, or if they have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19. An appointment for the second dose of this two dose series will be made during the time of the first visit.

On Oct. 31, Rep. Sarah Vance. R-Homer, wrote on her personal Facebook page “I say NO COVID-19 Vax for MY children.” She claimed that “the available vaccines are not FDA approved, because they have not completed thorough trials. Please do your research and consider that the natural immunity is the best defense against C-19.”

On Oct. 29, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer and Biontech COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11.

“The authorization was based on the FDA’s thorough and transparent evaluation of the data that included input from independent advisory committee experts who overwhelmingly voted in favor of making the vaccine available to children in this age group,” according to the FDA announcement. “… The vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children age 5 through 11 who received the vaccine and no serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study.”

Vance also claimed there was a “1 in a million chance a child could die of C-19,” and because there are 28 million children in the U.S. ages 5-11, 28 children would be affected.

According to the FDA, “In the U.S., COVID-19 cases in children 5 through 11 years of age make up 39% of cases in individuals younger than 18 years of age. According to the CDC, approximately 8,300 COVID-19 cases in children 5 through 11 years of age resulted in hospitalization. As of Oct. 17, 691 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S. in individuals less than 18 years of age, with 146 deaths in the 5 through 11 years age group.”

The vaccine booster clinic on Nov. 6 at the high school is also offering services for adults seeking Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Booster shots will be given by appointment for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Additional vaccine appointments will be available at future offerings and locations. Watch www.sphosp.org for details.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and boosters also are offered daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. t0 7 p.m. Tuesdays at the Bartlett Street clinic. Vaccines for children ages 5-11 are not offered yet at the clinic, but will be in the neat future. Janssen vaccines are offered only on Sundays and Tuesdays. Appointments are needed at any of the locations by visiting www.sphosp.org.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported on Tuesday a southern Kenai Peninsula woman in her 70s has died of COVID-19. Because the woman resided in a Census Designated Place of fewer than 1,000 people, DHSS identified her as being from the Kenai Peninsula South area.

The death announced on Nov. 2 brings to 16 the number of people on the southern peninsula who have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including seven in Anchor Point and eight in Homer. The recent death is the first person to have died outside of Anchor Point and Homer.

Five other people were reported on Tuesday to have died, all from Anchorage: a woman 80 or older, a man in his 60s, a woman in her 50s, a woman in her 30s and a woman in her 20s, for a total of 708 Alaskans who have died of COVID-19.

Because of the death certificate review process, there can be a lag between when a person dies of COVID-19 and when that is reported by DHSS. To protect patient privacy, DHSS only reports the age range, sex and residency of COVID-19 victims.

On Tuesday, Alaska had 196 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and another six considered persons under investigation. Twenty-seven were on ventilators. As of Tuesday’s report for Monday, Nov. 1, 2,795 Alaskans have been hospitalized since the start of the pandemic. The percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is 17%.

Alaska remains in the high alert level at 574.6 cases per 100,000 people. For Tuesday’s report, 494 more Alaskans tested positive as did five nonresidents, for 134,658 Alaskans and 5,267 nonresidents total.

On the Kenai Peninsula, for Tuesday’s report there were 18 new cases in Kenai, 16 in Soldotna, six in Homer, two in Anchor Point, one each in Anchor Point and in the Kenai Peninsula South census district.

For the reporting period of Oct. 26 through Nov. 2, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the southern Kenai Peninsula has seen 109 cases, with 51 for Homer, 27 for Anchor Point, 26 for the Kenai Peninsula South and five for Fritz Creek. That’s a slight increase over the 99 positive cases reported by DHSS for the week before.

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