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Jackson County Public Health encourages COVID-19 shots for kids

Jackson County Public Health is encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19. Associated Press file photo
Shots available soon for kids ages 5-11

Jackson County Public Health is encouraging parents to get their kids vaccinated against COVID-19 after a scientific panel unanimously concluded Tuesday that Pfizer’s child-sized dose is safe and effective for kids ages 5-11.

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup thoroughly reviewed safety data about the vaccine version for children. Some kids in the clinical trial had mild reactions that were similar to those experienced by teens and adults who get COVID-19 shots. The most common side effects were a sore arm at the injection site, fatigue, headache and muscle aches.

The side effects were also similar to those some kids experience after they get widely used shots for other types of infectious diseases, such as measles.

Local providers expect to start receiving the Pfizer vaccines for kids sometime this week and next week, according to Jackson County Public Health.

“Vaccination is our way out of this pandemic. It is the safest and most effective way to obtain protection against COVID-19 for all individuals 5 and over,” said Dr. Jim Shames, health officer for Jackson County Public Health.

“The greater the number of people who are immune to the virus, the quicker we can get back to our normal way of life. Remember, kids can get COVID. Some may need to be hospitalized to recover, a very traumatic event for a child. Children can have long-lasting effects from COVID, just like adults. And children can carry and spread the disease to others. I am so thankful that we now have a way to protect our children from COVID.”

Children are less likely to get seriously ill or die from COVID-19 than adults, but they still face risks from the unpredictable virus.

More than 8,300 children ages 5-11 have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 30% of those had no underlying health problems that would have put them at increased risk, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 5,200 kids and teens have developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in response to COVID-19 infection. The rare but serious condition causes parts of the body to become inflamed, such as the heart, brain, eyes, lungs, kidneys, skin and digestive system organs, the CDC said.

At least 791 children have died from COVID-19, including 172 ages 5-11, according to the CDC.

The CDC recently released new research that shows getting vaccinated against COVID-19 provides better, more consistent protection against the virus compared to getting infected with the virus. Vaccination comes with far fewer risks of serious complications than getting infected. COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. contain no COVID-19 viruses.

On Wednesday, Jackson County Public Health reported 77 new COVID-19 cases, plus five more COVID-19-related deaths.

A 33-year-old woman died at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, a 52-year-old man died at Providence Medford Medical Center, a 73-year-old man died at Providence, a 79-year-old woman died at home and a 90-year-old woman died at home, Jackson County Public Health reported.

All five people had underlying conditions, health officials said.

The 90-year-old woman died back in May, but was only recently added to Jackson County’s count of COVID-19-related deaths, which now stands at 328 for the pandemic. The other four died in late October and early November, Jackson County Public Health reported.

Statewide, the Oregon Health Authority reported 1,128 new COVID-19 cases and 64 more COVID-19-related deaths. OHA has recently been reporting new COVID-19-related deaths plus deaths that went unreported in past months because of a computer problem.

For information on getting vaccinated in Jackson County, see jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/COVID-19/Vaccine-Appointments/where-to get-vaccinated-in-jackson-county.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.