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Central Shenandoah Health District prepared to begin child vaccine rollout

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:27 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The CDC is set to meet on Tuesday to discuss recommending the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. This comes after the FDA authorized the vaccine for children on Friday.

Here in the Valley, the Central Shenandoah Health District already has plans in place to begin distributing the vaccine to children.

If the CDC gives the go-ahead Tuesday, the vaccine could be available for children in the Valley as early as Saturday.

CSHD says it is working with school systems across the Valley to develop plans to provide vaccine clinics in schools during the school day.

“We’re working with each individual school system and they’ll communicate sort of what parents need to expect and what they need to provide at the time of vaccination for their children to be vaccinated during the school day,” said Jordi Shelton, communications specialist for the Central Shenandoah Health District.

Children will be receiving the same vaccine as adults but in a smaller 10-microgram dose compared to the 30-microgram dose adults receive. The shots will be delivered in two doses, three weeks apart.

VDH says children will experience some of the same minor side effects as adults do after their second dose, based on the trial period.

“Injection site pain, redness and swelling, some fatigue, headache, chills, kind of the general symptoms that we’ve seen after COVID-19 vaccines,” said Jordi Shelton. “Side effects were generally mild to moderate in severity and occurred within two days after vaccination and went away for the most part within two days.”

VDH wants to assure any skeptical parents that the vaccine is completely safe for children, as well as very effective.

“90.7 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in young children, and no serious side effects have been detected in this ongoing study, so the vaccines are very safe, they’re effective,” said Shelton.

The vaccine could also limit COVID outbreaks that have plagued some Valley schools over the past few months.

“With the surge in the Delta variant that we saw we did see a lot more young children developing cases of COVID, so this could be a really great way for us to prevent a serious surge during the holiday season,” said Shelton.

One myth health experts want to dispel is the concern of many parents across the country, who say they’re worried about the possible long-term impact of the vaccine on their child’s future fertility.

Both the FDA and VDH say there is absolutely no evidence or scientific reason to believe this, as the vaccine has no effect on fertility.

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