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Slow going in getting Jamestown children vaccinated for COVID, health officials say

Central Valley Health administered 101 pediatric COVID vaccines at a vaccination clinic Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Jamestown Civic Center.

Central Valley Health District and Sanford Health Jamestown have not received many calls from parents inquiring to get their children ages 5 to 11 vaccinated from coronavirus, local health officials said.

Parents might be cautious about getting their children vaccinated because the pediatric vaccines are new and they are waiting until more children are vaccinated, said Robin Iszler, unit administrator at Central Valley Health.

“People are trying to weed through all the information and misinformation that is out there to make the right decision for their family,” she said.

It has been “extremely slow” getting children ages 5 to 11 vaccinated, said Jon Lillejord, director of clinic operations at Sanford Health Jamestown.

“We have seen very few patients come in and actually have the shots, and we also have had very few phone calls from parents inquiring about the shots,” he said. “So it has been very disappointing.”

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He said families might have made other plans with the Blue Jays football playing in the state championship game and a four-day weekend from school. Sanford had pediatric vaccines available last week, he said.

“We really haven’t had it for a very long time,” he said. “We are just hopeful that the numbers start to pick up”.

Central Valley Health administered 101 pediatric COVID vaccines at a vaccination clinic Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Jamestown Civic Center, Iszler said. Children who received the first dose will receive their second dose on Dec. 2.

“We haven’t had any reports of any issues,” she said. “They probably had the normal side effects. Nothing abnormal has been reported at this time.”

The only COVID vaccine that is available for children ages 5 to 11 is produced by Pfizer-BioNTech. The Pfizer pediatric COVID vaccines are administered as a two-dose series three weeks apart, which is the same time period between doses for individuals 12 and older.

The pediatric doses are 10 micrograms compared to 30 micrograms for those 12 and older.

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If 11-year-old children receive a pediatric dose and turn 12 when their second dose is due, they will receive the 30-microgram dose, Iszler said. Booster doses for children ages 5 to 11 have not been approved.

The vaccination rate in Stutsman County for children ages 5 to 11 who have received one dose is 5.9%, according to information released Monday, Nov. 15, from the North Dakota Department of Health. The second dose for those children has not been administered yet.

The vaccination rate in North Dakota for children ages 5 to 11 who have received one dose is 5%.

Dhilhan Marasinghe, a physician with Essentia Health in Fargo, said it is important to get children vaccinated because of the upcoming holiday season.

“One of the best ways we can do that is making sure everyone is vaccinated so we are not only protecting ourselves but we are protecting our loved ones and our elderly and our children that are around us for the holiday,” he said. “One of the great things about the COVID-19 vaccine in this age group is one that is showing to be 90 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19.”

Lillejord said children are protecting the people they meet by getting the pediatric COVID vaccine.

“By getting the vaccine they protect themselves and others from contracting COVID,” he said.

The main side effects are pain, swelling or redness at the site of the shot, Marasinghe said. He said a few children are getting fevers, headaches and muscle aches.

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“The study that was conducted actually showed that children seem to be having fewer side effects than what that adolescent group was,” he said. “... These side effects of fever, fatigue, headache, those are all signs of your body reacting appropriately to the vaccine and it means that your body is making an immune response, which is good and that is what we want.”

Iszler said children who received the first dose seemed to understand why they were getting the COVID vaccine and were glad to participate and do their part in preventing the spread of coronavirus. She said it will give children more opportunities to not be quarantined so they can participate in group activities because they have extra protection.

A vaccination clinic to administer the first dose of pediatric COVID vaccines is set from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, at Central Valley Health.

Parents can also schedule an appointment at Essentia Health and Sanford Health to get their children vaccinated.

“All Sanford providers are recommending the pediatric vaccines and also for adults to consider getting the booster shots,” Lillejord said.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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