Kids ages 5-11 now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

by Jordan Green

About 375,000 Oklahoma children ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, state officials said Nov. 3.

The news came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized the use of the Pfizer vaccine for that age group on an emergency basis.

“Evidence shows this vaccine is safe and effective at preventing illness among this age group,” said Dr. Gitanjali Pai, the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s chief medical officer.

“People of any age can become ill from COVID-19, so providing children with this protection is an especially important step to help keep kids safely in school, out of quarantine, and participating in their normal activities. The vaccine also helps protect those around us that we consistently interact with.”

Health officials advise parents to consult with their child’s pediatrician to discuss whether their child should be vaccinated. “This vaccine is being provided through a new logistical supply chain,”

health officials said Nov. 3. “With this approval comes new supply chain logistics. Shipments of the new supply have be-gun to arrive in Oklahoma, and we anticipate this to increase over the course of the next week, becoming more broadly available through our wide range of pandemic providers.”

State officials reported Nov. 1 that 1,983,032 Oklahomans, about 59.6% of all Oklahomans who were eligible before the Nov. 3 announcement, were fully vaccinated. More than 210,000 Oklahomans have taken a “booster” dose.

The state’s coronavirus case numbers continue to trend downward. The state health department reported Nov. 3 that the state has had 645,352 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, 6,398 of which are active. Statewide, 10,879 people have died from the virus.

More than 36,600 Oklahomans have been hospitalized since the pandemic began. Kay County has had 7,389 cases of the virus, 161 of which are active.

Officials said 7,062 Kay County residents have recovered from the virus, and 166 have died from it. Blackwell has had 951 cases, with 892 recoveries and 40 deaths.

Braman has had 46 cases, with 44 recoveries and two deaths. That leaves the town with no active cases. Kaw City has had 104 cases, with 100 recoveries and three deaths. Newkirk has had 621 cases, with 588 recoveries and nine deaths.

Ponca City has had 5,347 cases, with 5,127 recoveries and 106 deaths. Tonkawa has had 535 cases, with 507 recoveries and 18 deaths.

The state health department does not provide data on coronavirus cases in some of the state’s smallest towns, including Nardin in Kay County. Stillwater Medical Center – Blackwell reported Nov. 3 that two of its six hospital beds were in use.

None was occupied by a patient with COVID-19. Vaccinations are available for free at some pharmacies and stores across the county, among other locations.

For more information on vaccinations, or to schedule a vaccine appointment, visit covid19/vaccine-information/vaccine-faqs.html.

The United States has had more than 46 million coronavirus cases and more than 754,000 deaths.