Rollout of COVID-19 vaccine for kids in works

The COVID-19 vaccination rate in Alachua County remains at 70 percent as the positivity rate drops to 2 percent this week.

According to Paul Myers, administrator for Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Alachua County, the DOH has pre-booked its order for vaccines to be administered to newly eligible 5- to-11-year-olds and “hopes to receive our shipment sometime this week.”

Until then, Myers told the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at Tuesday’s regular meeting, parents can make appointments with their local pediatricians who have already received their doses. Area CVS and Walgreens pharmacies are also taking appointments and administering the lower dose to children.

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“Parents should monitor their school website for the consent forms and school clinic schedules,” Myers said when asked by the BOCC about upcoming vaccine clinics at local schools.

Once consent forms are distributed and filled out by parents and guardians, the DOH will notify the Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) of clinic dates.

“The local health department, which would be administering the shots in the schools, has to wait on vaccines and consent forms that have to come from the state,” ACPS spokesperson Jackie Johnson said. 

Myers reported that the latest positivity rate for Alachua County continues to drop and only 106 cases of COVID-19 were reported between Oct. 29 and Nov. 4.

Cases per 100,000 are at 38.9. At the height of the delta variant surge, Myers said one in five tests were coming back positive and cases peaked at 602 cases in a week.

Currently there are 14 adults in Alachua County’s three hospitals, and Myers said a report of zero pediatric cases means that, for privacy purposes, five or less children might be currently hospitalized for COVID-19.

Last week, 614 residents received the vaccine which is an increase from prior weeks, Myers said.

He reminded the BOCC that the monoclonal site in High Springs will close on Nov. 12.

“It started on Aug. 24 and closes this Friday,” he said.

Myers also announced that Gainesville Fire and Rescue is administering the COVID-19 vaccine for any resident having difficulty leaving home to access a shot.

“It’s another tool in our tool box,” he said about the at-home service that is part of the county’s prevention and treatment strategy.

Myers suggested parents who have concerns about the vaccine talk with their pediatrician, not their lawyer, and noted that with middle and high school vaccine rollouts, he noticed more students were getting their vaccines from their family doctor early on instead of waiting for the school clinics to come online.

Myers is working with UF Health to establish a drive-thru vaccine clinic as he plans for school clinics as well.

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