Local school systems are offering free vaccine clinics for children ages 5-11 this weekend. Owensboro Public and Catholic schools are offering a joint clinic on Saturday. Daviess County Public Schools will host a clinic on Friday and will also provide boosters for staff that day.
School officials said the clinic is voluntary and understand that not all families want to participate. They encourage families with questions to talk to their pediatrician or health care provider.
Officials also said they hope that if more of the student population is vaccinated, they will be able to return to a normal school environment more quickly — including no mask requirement.
“I think it’s definitely a helpful step,” said OPS Superintendent Dr. Matthew Constant. “That’s how we feel, if we give our people the chance to have it at all ages that we serve, then we can think about different mitigation steps. One of those steps that everyone wants us to think about, including me, is taking off the masks.”
OCD Superintendent David Kessler added: “This was just another step on the road that will hopefully lead to a brighter future as we get through this pandemic. … We know this helps. We’d love to go back to normal, but we just want to protecting as many people as possible. I really feel it’s another step in the right direction to have other options to help us get back to a more normal school year.”
Wendi Kozel, DCPS district health coordinator and a registered nurse, said the clinics are a way to make sure everyone has access to a vaccine if they want to.
“We’re trying to make it accessible only to families who are interested in receiving the vaccine,” she said. “It is up to the parent or guardian to decide that for their own child. We’re just providing them with access and a way to do that.”
The OPS and OCD districts are teaming up to provide a pediatric drive-thru clinic that will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the Owensboro Innovation Campus at 2631 South Griffith Ave. Those present must enter the site from the Scherm Weg side of the building.
Families must register online before arrival. They can do that here. At the same time, they must also register for their second dose. That dose will be administered on December 11.
Families should bring their insurance card if they have one (not required) and parents should bring ID.
The DCPS clinic will take place from 3:30-6:00 p.m. Friday at Burns, College View, and Daviess County high schools. A second dose will be administered on December 11.
Families can choose which site they want to go to, but it is recommended that you sign up to attend the high school that the child is/will attend.
Parents or guardians must be present with the child. Families who have not yet applied but would like to can contact their school nurse.
For the adult boosters, Bluewater Diagnostics staff will visit schools throughout the day. Times are assigned to each school building so that employees receive their recording based on that timeline.
Kozel said two different agencies are providing the injections, so there will be no mixing between the adult and pediatric doses.
Owensboro Health Regional Hospital held its first pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Tuesday, where more than 100 children received their injections. More vaccine clinics specifically for ages 5-11 will be held at OHRH on Tuesdays from 4-7pm. An appointment is needed and can be scheduled at OwensboroHealth.org/Vaccine.
About the pediatric vaccine
The CDC announced earlier this month that it is recommending that the 5-11 group be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer vaccine.
According to the CDC announcement, “The spread of the Delta variant resulted in a surge in childhood COVID-19 cases over the summer. Over a six-week period from late June to mid-August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased fivefold.”
The announcement continued: “Similar to what was seen in adult vaccine studies, vaccination was nearly 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5-11. In clinical trials, the side effects of the vaccine were mild, self-limiting, and similar to those seen in adults and other vaccines recommended for children. The most common side effect was a sore arm.”
Owensboro Health Children’s Center pediatrician Dr. Rebekah Booth said earlier this month that the pediatric dose is about a third of the normal adult dose.
“This can make many parents feel more comfortable vaccinating children because there is less chance that children will develop an intense immune response to the vaccine that can lead to conditions such as myocarditis,” she said.
OH director for outpatient pharmacy BC Childress said earlier this month that the preventable hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 in children outweigh the ill effects of any vaccine, such as myocarditis.
“No cases of myocarditis or pericarditis were reported in the clinical trial for children ages 5-11 (more than 3,000 patients),” she said. “In addition, the risk of myocarditis or pericarditis after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is lower than the risk of myocarditis associated with COVID infection in adolescents and adults. When voting on the approval, many CDC committee members noted that their decision was influenced by the fact that there have been no deaths from myocarditis from the COVID-19 vaccine. The benefits of vaccination in this population far outweigh the risks.”