COVID vaccines are more available than ever in Petersburg. The vaccines have been approved for children as young as 5. And booster shots are now for anyone over 18 who has contact with the public for work.
Petersburg’s Public Health Nurse Erin Michael says that the Petersburg Health Clinic and the Petersburg Medical Center have both ordered vaccines for children and they should have supplies soon.
Michael took some time away from her busy schedule contact tracing to answer some questions about the vaccines with KFSK’s Angela Denning.
Denning: What should parents know about kids getting a COVID vaccine?
Michael: Well, similar to what older children and adults can expect, except for the difference mainly being that the dosage is half the dosage on the Pfizer. So instead of getting a full dose, they’re only going to get a portion of that dose, based off of what the studies found were best for that age range. And they found that the vaccine so far and all the trials and studies with that age range, are working really well for that particular age group. But as far as side effects go, they can expect similar side effects to what adults have, which is things like a little bit of redness, tenderness at the injection site, sometimes a little itching or warmth. Some people get that kind of body aches, chills, or a little bit of a fever. All those things you can take Tylenol, or Motrin for or children’s Tylenol and Motrin based on the kids weight. So it’s very similar. We’re not seeing any drastic differences. As far as side effects go with kiddos than we are from adults.
Denning: Since the FDA approved it, does that mean that these vaccines have been tested on children and they’re safe for that age group?
Michael: Yes, they’ve been doing trials on this for quite a while now. And that’s why we’re finally able to move to this stage.
Denning: And then, why should children get vaccinated? Because they usually don’t get as sick as older adults, right?
Michael: Well, some kids can. Just like with adults, some adults can get very mild or no symptoms of COVID and some can get really sick, be hospitalized and even die from it. It’s similar for children. So we just don’t know who’s going to get the mild form of COVID and who’s not. And we don’t know what the long term consequences are going to be for some people with COVID. You know, we’ve all probably heard about long haul COVID. And it would just be tragic to see a child have to be impacted for the rest of their life from having COVID when there’s a potential that they could hopefully prevent that by getting the vaccine.
Denning: About booster shots–booster shots are now more readily available for Petersburg people. Who can get them at this point?
Michael: So booster shots are recommended for those that if they had their Pfizer or their Moderna, it’s been at least six months since their second dose. And if there are people that are 65 and older are their long term care residents, or if they’re 50 to 64 years of age, and they’re at higher risk of having severe COVID because of current medical conditions they have, or for some people, it can be also related to what they do for their job. So for example, if you’re 18 to 65, and you don’t meet those other qualifications, if you work as like a first responder, like a healthcare worker, or firefighter or police, or you’re in some kind of congregate care staff, if you’re in education, and that can include not just teachers, people that work in the schools in general daycare workers, if you work in food and agriculture, so that includes all of our cannery workers. If you’re doing manufacturing or corrections or US Postal Service, grocery store workers, pretty much anyone that’s 18 or older and has some kind of job that puts them in the general public, that puts them at a greater risk, because of that are eligible to get it. So either you’re eligible because of your age, because of your health conditions or maybe because of your job. Now, I don’t have a recommendation for boosters for under 18 at this point, but for over 18, that’s what we’re looking at.
Denning: And then does it matter if you mix Moderna and Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson? Because some people in Petersburg, you know, had the Moderna earlier this spring or they had Pfizer?
Michael: Well, ideally, it’s best if you can to stick with what you had originally. However, you certainly can do that. And so for like people with Johnson and Johnson, because there’s a little different than the Pfizer and Moderna, if it’s been at least two months from their Johnson and Johnson vaccine, they could potentially get a Moderna or a Pfizer or vice versa. If it’s somebody that has a Pfizer or Moderna, they could get one or the other. The important part is that they get that booster dose.
Denning: Okay, now some people are saying why get vaccinated because people can still get COVID and spread it? People have asked, do we know how many Petersburg COVID cases are people who have been vaccinated versus unvaccinated?
Michael: I don’t have that exact total off the top of my head, I’m sorry. But I can say that there have been cases of people that have been vaccinated that still caught COVID. The reason you should get vaccinated is because typically, most of the people that are fully vaccinated and that don’t have previous significant health conditions are going to have a very mild form of COVID if they still catch it, so it’s worth it because it you could hopefully prevent getting really, really sick; hopefully not getting that long haul COVID, getting hospitalized or even dying. So that’s why we just encourage people to get it. They’re still doing studies as far as are you more likely to pass on COVID being vaccinated? Are you at increased risk of that versus unvaccinated? Those kind of studies are still going on. If you’re on the fence, you can always give me a call, or you can call your primary care provider at the medical center and have that discussion because I know some people are still, you know, have that anxiety in regards to the vaccine. But we’re talking millions and millions of doses have been given out and we just want to make sure if you’re ready for your vaccine that you get it.
People can get COVID vaccines through the Public Health office or through the Petersburg Medical Center.
Public Health is offering a Moderna shot clinic Thursday but it’s already full. They’ll be offering another Moderna clinic next Tuesday (Nov. 9) for first, second, and booster doses from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This Friday, Public Health has a Pfizer shot clinic for first, second, and booster doses. Walk-ins are welcome from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or people can call and schedule a time at 907-772-4611.