Southern Nevada children begin getting COVID-19 vaccine

By: - November 10, 2021 3:01 pm

Dario Alonso, 10, receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination from registered nurse KJ Dionisio at the Southern Nevada Health District Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. (Wade Vandervort / Las Vegas Sun, pool photo)

The COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 is here and the Southern Nevada Health District says shots will be widely available across the state this week.

The vaccine will be available at multiple health district locations and pharmacies. Providers currently don’t have information available for how many vaccines have been given to children ages 5-11, but say they expect demand to be high for Southern Nevada’s 200,000 newly eligible children even as they worry hesitancy could slow the process.

“The health district is encouraging parents to bring eligible children to be vaccinated,” said Fermin Leguen, chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District. “We also encourage parents to contact pediatricians and other health care providers for more information about the vaccine and how best to protect their children.

In Clark County, more than 7,000 cases of COVID have been reported in children ages of 5 to 11, and 150 of those children have been hospitalized due to COVID. 

In total, about 37,000 cases of COVID-19 in Clark County have been reported in children ages 5 to 17. There have been a total of 266 children hospitalized in Clark County due to COVID, resulting in the death of 4 children. One of the children who died as a result of COVID was between the ages of 5-11, said Leguen.

Last week, federal regulators authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11, who will receive two doses, each about a third of the size of an adult dose, spaced three weeks apart. 

“As you can see there’s a great deal of passion and excitement on all sides of this matter,” said Scott Black, chairman of the SNHD board of health, referring to a crowd of anti-vax protesters outside the south side of the public health center

“Vaccinating children is an opportunity to ensure they can stay healthy, continue in classroom learning, and return to their pre pandemic lives,” Black said. “We know that the COVID vaccines are safe and they help reduce the transmission of the disease.”

Black urged parents to vaccinate their children for reasons ranging from personal to societal. Nevada health experts say vaccinating 5-11 year-olds will not only prevent infection and severe symptoms among that group but also help Nevada finally move past the pandemic.

According to one recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 27% of parents nationwide were eager to get their young children vaccinated, another 33% said they would wait to see how vaccination was going before deciding, and 30% said they will definitely not vaccinate their kids. The poll found that parents’ main concern is potentially unknown long-term side effects — despite clinical trials showing the authorized vaccine is safe and effective.

Health officials say they have enough vaccinations to meet demand and can order more vaccinations as needed. Clark County will receive weekly allocations of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children. The county recived about 21,000 doses in its first allocation this week.

“Side effects are about the same in children as for adults: sore arms, swelling, possible fever,” said JoAnn Rupiper, chief administrative nurse for the SNHD.

Nevada health experts recommend vaccinating children as soon as possible so they can benefit from full protection in time for the holiday season. 

According to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Information on availability will be posted on the SNHD website at www.SNHD.info/covid-vaccine.

“We know that children can die of COVID, but not from the vaccine,” Rupiper said.

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Jeniffer Solis
Jeniffer Solis

Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.