COVID and kids: Vaccine progress update

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Michael Farias, left, holds his daughter, McKenzie, 8, as she watches her brother, Mikey, 10, receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 at a state-run site in Cranston, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- It’s been a full two weeks since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in kids ages 5-11. Since the state started reporting the number of kids who have received their first dose last week, there hasn’t been a significant change in the number of kids vaccinated.

On November 17, 9% of the 1.6 million kids in New York between ages 5-11 had the first shot in their COVID vaccination series. On November 22, 13% (205,464) were reportedly vaccinated, according to the New York State Department of Health (DOH).

Locally, Saratoga (23.3%) and Albany (20.2%) Counties are still at the top for most kids vaccinated. Warren County had been in third place last week but Columbia County moved into third place doubling the percentage of kids vaccinated from 8.5% on November 17 to 17.2% on November 22.

“We are proud of our parents in Saratoga County who have taken the first step in getting their children vaccinated, as vaccination remains a safe and effective tool in the fight against COVID-19. We will continue to provide pediatric vaccines at county-run clinics and continue our partnerships with schools, pediatricians, and other vaccination providers across the county so that any parent who wants their child vaccinated has an opportunity to do so,” a Saratoga County spokesperson said Monday.

“Albany County has been working hard with our partners to make the vaccine easily accessible so we can get shots into arms as quickly as possible,” said Albany County Director of Communications, Mary Rozak. “Our County Health Department has been available to answer questions and been educating the community about the importance of vaccination.”

Check out the difference in percentage and number of kids vaccinated on November 17 compared to November 22 by county below:

CountyPercent/number vaccinated
Nov. 17
Percent/number vaccinated
Nov. 22
Total population kids aged 5-11
Albany11.9% (2,570)20.2% (4,353)21,591
Columbia8.5% (326)17.2% (663)3,853
Fulton2.3% (97)4% (171)4,239
Greene6.3% (189)8.5% (255)2,995
Montgomery2.5% (108)4.1% (178)4,311
Rensselaer8.4% (1,012)13.4% (1,626)12,115
Saratoga12.3% (2,194)23.3% (4,158)17,855
Schenectady8.2% (1,068)14.9% (1,934)12,961
Schoharie8.7% (186)12.7% (272)2,139
Warren9% (411)13.1% (598)4,557
Washington5.2% (230)6.8% (302)4,445
Statewide9% (141,180)13.1% (205,464)1,564,120
Source: NYSDOH

Getting vaccinated for COVID can prevent kids and adults from getting seriously ill from the virus but it doesn’t prevent them from having to quarantine. Vaccinated or not, if someone gets sick from or tests positive for COVID they are supposed to quarantine, according to the DOH.

It means although vaccinations are good for public health, they won’t keep COVID from impacting education. After communicating with the Washington County Department of Health, the Fort Ann School District decided to move its students to remote learning from Friday, November 19 to Tuesday, November 23 because of rising cases and because 25% of its population was absent.

“While we do wish we could control the number of students who need to quarantine per exposure, we have to follow state guidelines to keep our schools open and to keep our building safe from COVID-19 exposure,” said Fort Ann Superintendent, Kevin Froats on the district website. “Quarantining a student is something that is out of the control of the district, and is a mandated procedure that we must follow.”

Froats said the COVID cases and quarantines among its population leave the district without enough staff and without bus drivers. He said the district is hoping to prevent the spread of the virus in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday. School buildings will be deep cleaned in advance of a return to in-person learning on Monday, November 29.

As its rate of cases has increased, Washington County has been encouraging its residents to get vaccinated and to get tested for COVID ahead of the holidays. The county said its seven-day positive test average was 13.3% as of Sunday, November 21. It’s the highest seven-day average of any county in the state, according to the DOH COVID dashboard on Monday.

“Our Washington County, NY Public Health Department continues to coordinate with local healthcare providers (Pediatricians) for the administration of the Pfizer vaccine for youth ages 5-11. At this time, our Public Health team is encouraging parents to check with pediatricians when seeking the COVID-19 vaccine for youth in these age groups initially,” the county said Monday.

South Glens Falls School District also moved to remote learning Monday and Tuesday this week because of staff shortages caused by quarantines and a lack of substitute teachers in its middle and high schools, the district said. Elementary school students in the district remain in-person. The district said they held a vaccination clinic for over 280 students ages 5-11 on November 12 and are working with pharmacies to schedule another.

“Until we can get another setup, we have asked our families – via our weekly message – to check with the Saratoga County Health Department because they are hosting several clinics for 5- to 11-year-olds,” the district said. On November 15, Superintendent Kristine Orr told district families, “Getting our students vaccinated is one of the best mitigating strategies we can do to get our students and schools back to normal routines.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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