PACIFIC COUNTY — After a rigorous review process, federal, regional and state health regulators last week signed off on authorizing Pfizer’s child-sized coronavirus vaccine for emergency use among 5-11 year olds.
The authorization means that hundreds of children in Pacific County are newly eligible to get vaccinated against covid-19, and comes after virus outbreaks have been reported in virtually every school in the county this school year.
The dosage of Pfizer’s vaccine that is now available to children ages 5-11 is one-third of the level of the drugmaker’s vaccine that is available to people 12 and older. Like that vaccine, this vaccine also calls for a two-shot series, with the second dose scheduled for three weeks after the first dose.
“The formulation [of the vaccine for younger children] is very similar to the regular Pfizer covid-19 vaccine,” county health director Katie Lindstrom said.
Lindstrom said the vaccine is somewhat limited across the state right now, with it being a separate product developed specifically for children and not as simple as drawing just one-third of a dose of Pfizer’s regular vaccine.
“It’s a separate vial and it’s a separate product that’s actually for children, so that’s really important [for people to know]. You can’t just go to a place that has Pfizer and say ‘Hey, I want one-third of a dose.’ That’s not how it works,” Lindstrom said.
Even with the supply currently stretched somewhat thin, both Ocean Beach Hospital and Peninsula Pharmacies held first-dose clinics for the vaccine early this week. More clinics will be scheduled in the coming days and weeks as supply becomes available, Lindstrom said, which can be found at www.pacificcountycovid19.com.
“If people have questions or concerns, we really encourage them to talk to their pediatrician or their primary care doctor, because they obviously know you and your child best,” Lindstrom said.
Cases continue downward trendGood news persisted for yet another week in terms of new cases in Pacific County, with the case rate dipping below 200 for the first time since mid-July.
A total of 2,063 cases have been reported in the county, with 21 new cases over the past week as of Monday. As of Nov. 7, the case rate per 100,000 people over a 14-day period stood at 198, down from 286 a week earlier and 332 two weeks ago. Hospitalizations are up by two, to 118, from the previous week, while the death toll remained static at 33.
“We’re headed in the right direction, and I can’t even tell you how happy we are,” Lindstrom said. “I don’t want to get too excited but we needed a break, so this is nice to have a little bit of a lull. And I’m hoping it’s a long lull, or a permanent lull, but we’ll see. Winter’s here and people are staying inside.”
The county saw its number of new cases begin to soar a year ago this month, with the case rate ultimately topping 1,100 and Pacific County becoming one of the hottest spots in the country in terms of coronavirus activity. With nearly 60% of the county population vaccinated this go-round, health officials are hoping that calamity doesn’t strike again.
While cases are down, the county health department is stepping up to provide testing in north county after Willapa Harbor Hospital recently discontinued its drive-thru testing program. Beginning this Wednesday, the department will be providing testing each Wednesday for at least the next month at the health department building in South Bend, located at 1216 West Robert Bush Drive.
The testing is for individuals who are symptomatic or are a close contact of someone who tested positive for covid-19. A link to schedule an appointment will be posted each week on the Pacific County Public Health & Human Services Facebook page.