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POST-DISPATCH: Vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds could start Saturday in St. Louis County

Vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds could start Saturday in St. Louis County

ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Vaccinations were scheduled to begin Saturday in St. Louis County after the COVID vaccine was approved Tuesday for children ages 5-11 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local officials said.

Officials in other counties in the St. Louis area either did not respond to requests for comment or said they are still in the planning stages.

On Wednesday morning, local pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreen's, were scheduling vaccinations at some local stores, although most appointments appeared to be for Monday or later next week. A Walgreens spokesman said more appointment times would open up as more vaccine arrives.

St. Louis County health department spokesman Christopher Ave said vaccinations for children 5-11 would be available Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the county’s John C. Murphy Health Center, 6121 North Hanley Road in Berkeley. Ave said Wednesday that the St. Louis County Library’s Rock Road Branch, 10267 St. Charles Rock Road in St. Ann, would not be offering appointments for the pediatric vaccine Saturday, as initially thought.

UPDATE: The St. Louis County Library’s Rock Road Branch, 10267 St. Charles Rock Road in St. Ann, would not be offering appointments for the pediatric vaccine Saturday, as initially thought.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page discusses the local plan to offer vaccines to children 5-11. The CDC recently approved vaccinated younger children, but the doses are still being distributed across the country.

Ave also said Wednesday that the county has so far received only 300 doses, far fewer than the number requested.

The county started taking appointments for Saturday slots, which quickly filled. Ave said the county is supposed to receive another 3,000 doses Friday.

Children will receive smaller doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, using smaller needles. The doses, one-third of the amount given to adults and teens, will come from special orange-capped vials to avoid dosage mix-ups.

The county has vaccination clinics at four library branches, and the vaccine will be available at all four next week, as well as the two other St. Louis County health department locations: North Central Community Health Center, 4000 Jennings Station Road in Pine Lawn, and South County Health Center, 4580 South Lindbergh Boulevard in Sunset Hills.

That’s assuming the state sends the county the doses, Ave cautioned.

Ave said the county is also working with at least a dozen pediatric practices, as well as school districts, but no details had been worked out.

At lunchtime Wednesday, St. Charles County's online vaccine scheduler was showing the first available appointments for pediatric vaccines on Nov. 10.

Onye Hollomon, director of communications for the Ferguson-Florissant School District, said the district is surveying families to gauge interest in vaccinations at school.

If there is sufficient interest, she said, “the hope and the goal is to roll it out soon.”

George Sells, spokesman for St. Louis Public Schools, said school officials are planning a vaccine clinic. They are meeting with health officials Wednesday.

The St. Louis Department of Health is finalizing its plans, spokeswoman Kim Vanden Berg said in an email.

Mary Enger, St. Charles County spokeswoman, said once the health department receives standing orders from the state health department, the county will have mass events, library events and clinic appointments at the county health department.

Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the state is expecting 116,100 doses, split among pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and others. Pharmacy chains may be able to start vaccinations first, she said.

Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said in an email that orders for 470,000 pediatric doses have been placed by the state, Chicago and pharmacies.

More than 80 vaccine clinics for 5- to 11-year-olds have been scheduled or requested by schools in Illinois, she said. The department “continues to explore other options for larger vaccination events,” she said, and is working with youth organizations, community-based organizations, Head Start programs, foster care, and child care organizations to help arrange for vaccination clinics.

The White House on Monday said 28 million doses had been purchased from Pfizer — enough for every child in that age group.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said Monday that officials began the process of shipping 15 million doses as soon as the Food and Drug Administration approved its use Friday. He said millions of doses would begin to arrive in days at pediatricians’ and family physicians’ offices, pharmacies, children’s hospitals, community health centers, rural health clinics and other locations.

Zients said the distribution would be “fully up and running” next week.

Census data shows there are about 21,000 children in that age group in St. Louis and 84,000 in St. Louis County. St. Charles County has about 36,000 and Jefferson County has about 20,000.

There are about 22,000 children in that group in Madison County and 23,000 in St. Clair County.

Although children rarely become seriously ill from the coronavirus, they can get sick and spread the virus. Health officials say vaccinating that group should help check the pandemic.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force said Tuesday that there was one COVID-positive child 11 or younger in the intensive care unit and three in task force hospitals.

P.O. Box 410091
Saint Louis, MO 63141
Paid for by Page for Missouri, Sue Felling, Treasurer

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