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Cowlitz County kids begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines

When Jamie Hoskins heard pediatric COVID-19 vaccines were available at the Child and Adolescent Clinic, she called right away to schedule appointments for her 10-year-old and her 7-year-old.

The kids didn’t want to get the vaccine because “it’s a shot,” Hoskins said. But five minutes after sitting down at the Longview clinic Thursday morning, the brother and sister were playing with Legos in the waiting room, discomfort forgotten.

The Child and Adolescent Clinic began administering the pediatric COVID-19 vaccines Monday after federal and state officials approved the shots for 5- to 11-year-olds last week.

Hoskins, a home care aid, said she heard the clinic was offering the vaccines from a client’s mother. Getting her children vaccinated is important for her family’s health and safety as well as the safety of her clients, she said.

“I feel like it’s our job to help everybody stay safe,” Hoskins said.

After being a “stay-at-home family” since the pandemic began, Hoskins said it will be nice to take her children out without worrying about them getting sick.

Cowlitz County COVID-19 cases appear to decrease; vaccine clinics for kids planned

Hoskins said she was watching closely for vaccines for younger children to be approved. The family has gotten other immunizations, and Hoskins was prepared for her children to have mild flu-like symptoms after getting their COVID-19 shots, similar to other vaccines.

The most common side effects from the vaccine are a sore arm, tiredness, headache and muscle pain, according to the state Department of Health.

The Child and Adolescent Clinic is offering the vaccines to patients when they come in for other appointments or is scheduling the shots as parents call in. The clinic has been offering the Pfizer vaccine to patients 12 years old and older since late May, after the vaccine was authorized for 12- to 15-year-olds.

The pediatric vaccine is a smaller dose than the vaccine approved for those 12 and older, but still requires two doses given three weeks apart.

Pediatrician Wes Hendrickson said it’s exciting to have a safe and effective vaccine available for younger children. The vaccine protects the children as well as those around them who are more vulnerable, he said.

“One thing we think about is even though this disease tends not to be as deadly for kids as adults, we know the virus is really contagious,” he said.

Dr. Steve Krager, Cowlitz County deputy health officer, said although most children don’t get severely ill from COVID-19, preventing any severe illnesses or deaths through vaccination is worthwhile.

“Just keeping kids healthy is our No. 1 goal, and getting vaccinated is the best way to do that,” he said. “The next most important goal is keeping kids in school and minimizing disruptions to their lives, and getting vaccinated is another way to do that.”

People exposed to COVID-19 cases do not have to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and don’t have symptoms.

School vaccine mandate worked, state and Cowlitz County officials say

Other local clinics and pharmacies began receiving the pediatric vaccine last week.

PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center is taking appointments by phone for two pediatric vaccination clinics this Saturday and Saturday, Nov. 20. The clinics will be held in the pediatric clinic on the first floor of the hospital. Vaccines are free to all children, and they don’t have to be PeaceHealth patients to sign up. Parents can call 360-414-2385 to schedule an appointment.

The vaccine is available at Kaiser Permanente’s Longview clinic, and parents can schedule appointments online. People can search for other locations offering the pediatric vaccine at www.vacccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.

Statewide, at least 600 children 5 to 11 years old have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, but those numbers are likely higher because of reporting delays, said Michele Roberts, Department of Health acting assistant secretary.

Washington had 265,000 pediatric vaccines delivered so far, with more arriving each day, Roberts said. Appointments will be easier to find as supply increases, she said.

As of Monday, 65.8% of Washington residents had initiated vaccination and 60.7% were fully vaccinated. About 57.3% of Cowlitz County residents had initiated vaccination and 52.6% were fully vaccinated.

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