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South Central Public Health begins offering COVID vaccine to kids

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Eager parents rush to get kids pediatric COVID-19 vaccines

In this Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, photo provided by Primary Health Medical Group, Ben Weiss, 10, gets a COVID-19 vaccine at Primary Health Medical Group in Meridian.

TWIN FALLS — The South Central Public Health District on Monday began scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments for children ages 5 to 11.

The move comes nearly a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave final approval for kids to get the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine

South-central Idaho has reached a two-month high for cases reported in children.

“It is a relief to finally be at a place we can offer this protection for our kids,” health district Director Melody Bowyer said in a Monday statement. “COVID-19 infections in children more than doubled this fall compared to last. We want to bring normalcy back to our kids lives and to do that we need to slow this virus. Vaccination is the most effective way to do it.”

Data from the last two years show cases in school-aged children more than doubled in 2021 compared to 2020. Cases in the region began increasing slowly in June and July, when the delta variant was introduced to the area, and sky rocketed after school started.

“We’ve been fighting against a variant that spreads more quickly and this fall we haven’t had as many precautions in place in our schools or communities to help slow it down,” Bowyer said. “Getting this vaccine out to our children is a crucial step in protecting them from disease.”

Comparing children’s COVID-19 case numbers from June 2021 to October 2021, the five months the delta variant has spread through the community, with the 15 months before (April of 2020 to May of 2021) case numbers are nearly the same.

The only age category that didn’t see more cases in the last five months compared to the first fifteen are 12 to 17-year-olds. This age group has had access to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since June. Vaccination rates among teens are still low in south-central Idaho, but the vaccine has helped slow disease spread among this age group compared to other adolescents.

“The purpose of a vaccine is to build our immune systems and protect us from severe symptoms that may cause hospitalization or death. There is a mountain of evidence showing the vaccines we have for COVID-19 are doing a great job of this,” health department Division Administrator Logan Hudson said. “Now we can extend that protection to more of our residents.

To schedule a vaccine appointment in a health district office, call 208-737-5966.

St. Luke’s Health System has not announced plans to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to kids in the region. The vaccine is already available at some pharmacy chains, including Walgreens.

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