The Calvert Health Department is extremely happy to see the arrival of Covid vaccines for children ages 5-11. After 6-months of careful study, the CDC Advisory Committee verified excellent vaccine safety and effectiveness. Evidence has clearly shown that the best protection against infection is vaccination. Although serious illness has fortunately been less common in children than adults, Covid was the 8th leading cause of death in U.S. children over the past year and has resulted in over 8,300 hospitalizations among 5-11 year-olds. Vaccination also dramatically reduces the risk of children spreading the virus to their grandparents, high-risk household members, and medically vulnerable classmates.
The vaccine formulation for children is a lower dose than for teens and adults. This formulation is currently in limited supply. In order to most equitably make vaccinations available to as many 5-11 year-old children in Calvert as possible, the Calvert Health Department is partnering with Calvert County Public Schools and several private schools. Vaccines will be administered in the school setting during the week of 11/8 to children whose parents consent to inoculation. Please look for information from your child’s school to register for vaccination. Home-schooled children and the small number of children at private schools unable to accommodate in-school vaccination may register to attend clinics that will be held at each of the county’s high schools on Nov. 11. Vaccinations are also available at some area pharmacies.
Every autumn, thousands of parents rely on Calvert Health Department nurses to provide in-school flu vaccines to their children. For Covid vaccinations, Health Department nurses will follow the same safe protocols we have successfully used to vaccinate tens of thousands of Calvert residents since last December at our drive-thru location, at community outreach sites, and in middle and high schools after approval of the vaccine for 12-17 year-olds.
For parents and guardians who are ready to move forward with vaccination for their children, now is the time. Receiving vaccination this coming week will provide children 70% protection by the time families get together for Thanksgiving. The second vaccine dose will be administered in early December, raising protection to >90% before the winter holidays.
For parents who have additional questions, we recommend that you contact your child’s personal physician or nurse practitioner. Your child’s health is too important to trust to social media or other unverified sources. As a parent and physician, I hope that every parent gives thoughtful consideration to vaccine protection against a disease that has so severely disrupted the lives of our children. Having carefully followed the research throughout the course of the pandemic, I completely agree with the experts at the FDA, CDC, and American Academy of Pediatrics that the benefits of vaccination for children greatly outweigh the rare potential for side effects. However, it’s your decision that ultimately matters most.