As COVID cases continue to rise in the greater Cincinnati area — and both the city and county have declared states of emergency — the number of COVID cases in children is rapidly multiplying. To counteract this, Cincinnati Children’s is now offering children free Pfizer vaccine boosters.
The hospital’s COVID vaccine clinics are boosting the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 and older who completed the two-dose series of the same vaccine at least five months ago. They also offer boosters for people ages 5 to 11 who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Immunocompromised children can receive a third Pfizer shot 28 days after their second dose. Pfizer is currently the only approved COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
“With omicron spreading rapidly in our area and children returning to school and side activities, now is the time to get vaccinated,” Susan WadeMurphy, RN, said in a news release. Murphy is the associate vice president of Cincinnati Children’s Patient Services and also oversees the COVID vaccination clinics.
“Evidence supports the value of COVID vaccination in all populations – against both the Delta and Omicron variants. We gave thousands of Pfizer vaccines to the 12-15 year old age group in the summer of 2021. These youth are now eligible for a booster shot if it has been five months since their last COVID shot,” she continued.
Parents can register for a vaccination appointment at cincinnatichildrens.org. Avondale’s main campus offers walk-in hours on Wednesdays from 4:30pm to 6:00pm. Adults can also get their free COVID vaccine/booster here.
During a Jan. 12 briefing, Cincinnati Health Commissioner Dr. Melba Moore that children are being hospitalized at an alarming rate with COVID-19. Since last week, the number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients aged 0 to 17 has increased by 83%, also up 540% from last month, she said.
Deborah Hayes, President and CEO of The Christ Hospital, said the Omicron variant of COVID has played a role in this surge, calling it “a virus that spreads almost as, if not as easily, as measles.”
Moore said only 26% of Hamilton County residents ages 0 to 19 have completed their COVID vaccination series, according to data. COVID-19 vaccinations are available for children 5 years and older, and booster shots are available for children 16 and older.
“Cincinnati, we can do better,” Moore said, imploring parents and guardians to vaccinate their children.
The surge in cases is affecting children — and their caregivers — in other ways, too. At its Jan. 10 meeting, the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education voted to return to district-wide distance learning beginning Wednesday, Jan. 12. The district has experienced significant absences of educators, administrators, and staff of all kinds due to COVID-19. As of January 6, nearly 800 employees were reportedly absent.
All CPS schools will switch to distance learning five days a week, with in-person classes due to resume on Monday January 24, but only if sufficient staff are available. Employees should work remotely if possible. All schools are closed on Monday, January 17 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The board made the decision based on staffing, not safety, they said.
Cincinnati provides information on COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites on the Department of Health’s website. Additional regional resources include Hamilton County Public Health and The Health Collaborative.
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