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Public Health Officials Urge COVID-19 Vaccinations for Children
Staff Reports,
11:19AM / Thursday, November 04, 2021
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Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday speaks about the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations for children age 5 to 11.

BOSTON — State officials are encouraging parents to vaccinate their children now that the Pfizer-Biotech vaccine for COVID-19 has received emergency authorization for ages 5 to 11. This is the best way, they say, for the state and schools systems to get back to normal. 
Gov. Charlie Baker, speaking Thursday at Boston Children's Hospital, said pediatric doses have already been received and he did not anticipate any supply issues, such as those that hampered the rollout for adult vaccinations earlier this year. 
"We continue to lead the way in vaccinations here in the United States with over 5.5 million people in Massachusetts having received the first dose and, in Massachusetts, typically if you get a first dose, you get a second dose," he said. "[This] has been a great statement, not just about the vaccine delivery system, but about the commitment of the people in Massachusetts, to getting vaccinated and to keeping themselves and their families and their friends and neighbors and co workers safe."
So far, more than 80 percent of children aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose, he said, and the vaccination rate is about 20 points higher than the national average. 
"For months we've been preparing to distribute vaccines across the state so that families would have easy access once they were approved," the governor said. "Many parents will want to talk to their family doctors and their pediatricians about the vaccine. These medical experts know that the vaccine is safe and has been proven to be highly effective, and they are well positioned to help parents understand the facts."
Dr. Feeney Polanco Walters, a pediatrician at Boston Children's, said she wanted to reiterate that the vaccine is safe and effective for children but understood that parents will have questions.
"Safety data from trials showed there were no serious adverse reactions related to this vaccine," she said. "And the most common reactions were pain at the injection site, fatigue and headache."
The dosage for children is not based on weight but it is a smaller amount — 10 micrograms compared to 30 for older children and adults. 
"Over 3,000 children participated in the clinical trials and demonstrated a 90.7 percent effectiveness in preventing symptomatic COVID with this dose," she said, and is safe to take along with an annual flu shot.
Walters said it was true that children tended not to get as sick or show symptoms as much as adults but that didn't mean they were immune from serious illness or death. Nearly 2 million children have been infected, more than 8,000 hospitalized and 172 have died. Children also can transmit the virus to those close to them without show symptoms. 
She also urged parents and guardians to speak with their family doctors and pediatricians. 
Public health officials at Thursday's press conference noted that the state has a high rate of vaccination overall, with 95 percent of children vaccinated by the time they start school. 
Baker said 2,000 schools are using the test pool system and showing a rate of less than 1 percent, which he put down to high rates of vaccinations among staff and older students.
"At one point in August, there were 9,000 kids under the age of 17 in [the state of] Florida who tested positive for COVID," he said. "At that point in time there were 250 in Massachusetts, and that in my opinion was a function of vaccination rates."
Parents and guardians can use the state vaccine finder to find clinics or work through their pediatrician.
Department of Public Health acting Commissioner Margret Cooke said DPH is working with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to ask schools to consider hosting vaccination clinics and to coordinate with athletic departments and PTO/PTA organizations. 
Vaccinations are expected to be available soon through local health care systems; Southern Vermont Health Care in Bennington has already scheduled two vaccination clinics this week. 
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