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More than 2,220 Arkansas children receive covid-19 vaccine in first five days

Overall demand good, varying by county, official says by Cynthia Howell, Jeannie Roberts | November 9, 2021 at 7:01 a.m.
A ventilator is shown next to a hospital's intensive care bed set up for covid-19 patients in this Aug. 17, 2021, file photo. (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

At least 2,285 Arkansas children ages 5-11 have received the covid-19 vaccine in the five days since kid-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were given the green light by federal authorities, Arkansas Health Department spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill said Monday.

"There is often a lag in reporting, so likely there were more vaccinations than that given-- they just haven't been entered into our system yet," McNeill said.

After getting off to a slow start on Wednesday when the pediatric vaccine doses began arriving in the state, shot clinics were held around the state by the local health units as well as hospitals and medical providers.

The state has about 271,000 children ages 5-11 years. That means that less than 1% have been vaccinated.

Approximately 95,100 kid-sized doses were to be delivered to the state last week, but part of that order has not yet been received, McNeill said.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

"Local county health units across the state received a total of 38,100 doses for their use. There were 28,500 that were redistributed to clinics. And an additional 28,500 have been ordered but haven't arrived," McNeill said.

The first round of the pediatric vaccine was designated first to the federal Vaccines for Children Program participants, which include almost all of the state's pediatric clinics. An additional 40,000 doses were expected to be delivered directly to Walmart stores and other providers participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination.

"All local county health units have received the vaccine," McNeill said. "Our understanding is that all VFC providers who are enrolled in the covid-19 vaccination program have received their doses."

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Distribution to the non-VFC providers in the state began Monday, McNeill said.

The pediatric vaccine roll out is going well overall, but there have been some communication issues that had to be addressed, McNeill said.

The demand for the kid-size shots have varied by county at the local health units, she said.

"But we are pleased with the demand overall," McNeill said. "Vaccination providers have up to two days [48 hours] to report the doses they administer, so we'll have a better idea what the uptake has been in the next few days."

VACCINE CLINICS

Local health units across the state are hosting vaccination clinics for children ages 5-11 through Wednesday with extended hours until 6 p.m., McNeill said.

No appointment is necessary, and vaccines are provided at no cost.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said Monday that the vaccine clinic at 401 S. Monroe St. in Little Rock did not receive its ration of the pediatric vaccine until Monday morning.

"We are teaming up for pediatric vaccines with Arkansas Children's who are sending nurses to help vaccinate children," Taylor said Monday. "Our Texarkana and Fayetteville campuses are starting to vaccinate today."

The Monroe Street clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. The clinic is closed on Thursday for Veterans Day.

[VACCINE INFO: See the latest information on covid-19 vaccines in Arkansas » arkansasonline.com/vaccineinfo/]

On Monday, CHI St. Vincent began administering the pediatric vaccine to its patients ages 5-11 through its system of community and primary clinics across central and southwest Arkansas.

"At this time, the distribution and administration of the vaccine is going smoothly," Bonnie Ward, CHI St. Vincent director of marketing and communications, said. "CHI St. Vincent strongly encourages members of the public to get vaccinated against covid-19. All available vaccines provide extremely strong protection against severe covid-19 infection, including current variants, and significantly reduce the likelihood of hospitalization or death. Regular, thorough hand washing, social distancing and wearing a mask also remain effective tools to help stem the spread of covid-19."

PEDIATRIC SHOTS

Mandi Griggs of Centerton, who is married with three children, said her 8-year-old son Knox is getting the vaccine this week along with the annual flu shot at their pediatrician's office.

Her 13-year-old daughter Rebecca was vaccinated as soon as she was able, Griggs said.

Knox knows about the covid-19 vaccine and is ready to get it, Griggs said.

"He knows he is doing his part," she said.

The family believes in the covid-19 vaccinations and hopes to protect Griggs' 96-year-old grandmother, who is also vaccinated, but vulnerable.

"We are also doing it because of the immune compromised individuals that need us to do our part to keep them healthy. And, it's just the right thing to do," Griggs said. "Do your part to keep your children and others healthy. You want schools back to normal, do your part. You want life to go back to normal, do your part. A day or two of mild symptoms is better than the alternative."

PEDIATRIC NUMBERS

There have been 99,223 Arkansas children from birth to 18 years old who were diagnosed with covid-19 since the pandemic began.

[How is the coronavirus affecting you in Arkansas? Tell us here » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus/form/]

The state has reported 4,194 cases in children under a year old; 11,766 cases in children 1-4 years old; 31,879 cases in children 5-11 years old; and 51,384 cases in children 12-18 years old.

About 96.3% of patients between 12-18 were unvaccinated. About 9.9% of the 12- to 18-year-old population in Arkansas is partially vaccinated, while 41.1% is fully vaccinated.

On Monday, the state had 1,171 active cases among patients from newborn to 18 years old.

SCHOOL CASES

The Arkansas Department of Health reported a total of 905 active covid-19 cases among students and employees in the state's public elementary and secondary schools Monday, bringing the cumulative total since Aug. 1 to 24,196.

Monday's 905 cases is down from 963 active cases Thursday but still up from the 890 cases in the Nov. 1 report by the state agency.

The Health Department reports twice weekly on active cases in public and private schools and higher education institutions.

A total of 59 of the traditional and charter school systems had 5 or more active cases, according to the Monday report.

The state does not identify individual districts with fewer than five cases in an effort to protect patient privacy.

The Rogers School District topped Monday's list, with 47 cases, followed by Fort Smith, with 32 cases, and Bentonville, with 28 cases. Cabot and Springdale both had 25 cases while Conway had 24.

In Pulaski County, the Pulaski County Special School School District had 23 cases in the Monday report; Little Rock School District had nine cases; and North Little Rock and Jacksonville/North Pulaski each had five cases.

Those Central Arkansas numbers come in advance of a 5 p.m. special Pulaski County Special School District Board of Education meeting tonight to hear comments from the public in opposition to the district's requirement that students and employees wear face coverings inside school buildings. Masks are required to curb transmission of covid-19, district leaders have said.

[How is the coronavirus affecting you in Arkansas? Tell us here » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus/form/]

A group of parents had petitioned the board for the special meeting.

The state Health Department on Monday reported 18 active covid-19 cases in private schools, with only Harding Academy identified because it had five cases. That 18-case total is down from 34 active cases in private elementary and secondary schools last Thursday.

Also down Monday compared with Thursday's report were the active cases in colleges and universities. There were 61 cases Monday, down from 74 last Thursday. The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville topped the list with 11 active cases. The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith had seven, and the University of Central Arkansas had six.

BY THE NUMBERS

Hospitalizations for covid-19 remained below 300 on Monday, continuing the downward trend that began last Thursday.

"Our COVID report shows a decrease in cases and hospitalizations," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a social media post Monday afternoon. "This is a good trend, but we need to work to get first doses up. I am in Israel, and everything is wide open because of their high vaccination rate. If you haven't been vaccinated, please make the decision to do so."

[How is the coronavirus affecting you in Arkansas? Tell us here » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus/form/]

The number of patients hospitalized with covid-19 dipped by one, to 289, while the number of virus patients who were on ventilators dropped by eight, to 65.

Another 141 new coronavirus cases were added -- 125 fewer than the previous day -- bringing the cumulative total to 516,386.

There were 124 covid patients in intensive care Monday, two less than the day before.

The number of cases in the state that were considered active fell by 306, to 4,274.

The state's death toll from the virus since March 2020, as tracked by the state Health Department, rose by 11, to 8,508.

[Interactive Arkansas map not showing up above? Click here to see it: arkansasonline.com/arvirus]

VACCINATION NUMBERS

The number of vaccine doses that providers reported having administered rose by 2,092, to 3,208,377.

The number of individuals fully immunized increased by 342, to 1,409,440, or 55.1% of Arkansans 12 years old and up.

The Health Department does not base its percentage of vaccinated individuals on the state's total population, but on the total population of those 12 and older, which the department said is 2,557,248.

As of Monday, 193,256 third vaccine doses had been administered.

Of the new cases reported Monday, 86.5% involved unvaccinated people, while 88.5% of those hospitalized had not received the shots. About 78.7% of the active cases and 86.4% of the deaths involved unvaccinated people.

COUNTY CASES

Health Department data indicate that Sebastian and Pulaski counties tied for the largest increase in total cases, with the count rising by 14 in both.

Benton County had the next largest increase, 12.

Print Headline: 2,285 state kids given vaccine

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