COVID-19 vaccines for children being administered across High Country, approximately 15 percent partially vaccinated – Watauga Democrat

WATAUGA COVID-19 vaccinations for children 5 to 11 years old are on the rise approximately two weeks after the vaccine was approved by federal regulators for use in that age group.

Watauga County Schools held two vaccine clinics one on Nov. 10 and one on Nov. 13 which had all 300 appointment slots filled, according to WCS Superintendent Scott Elliott.

It has been a great team effort between Blue Ridge Pediatrics, Boone Drug, the health department and our school nurses, Elliott said.

According to AppHealthCare, 750 vaccinations have been administered in Watauga County to those 5 to 11 year olds as of Nov. 13. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, about 19 percent of the population of 5-11 year olds in Watauga County have received their first dose.

According to AppHealthCare, NCDHHS is showing a different number of vaccinations for this age group due to the timing of entering data and then having it appear on the state website.

Vaccinating a 5 to 11 year-old protects that child from getting and transmitting COVID-19, said Dr. Scott St. Clair of Blue Ridge Pediatrics. The vaccine dramatically reduces the risk of more severe consequences such as hospitalization and chronic long COVID-19. Protecting children also protects parents, grandparents, friends and any other community members who may interact with that child. The vaccine also helps kids stay in school as they will avoid having to quarantine if they are a close contact of a COVID case.

Mira Waits had her two daughters 8 and 6 vaccinated at Blue Ridge Pediatrics, which she said was a wonderful experience.

It was a fairly easy decision for our family, Waits said. While I am grateful that children dont get as sick as adults with COVID-19, I see the COVID-19 vaccine as a far less risky decision to protect the health of my children than taking our chances with COVID-19, a disease that doctors are only beginning to understand the long-term effects of in all people, including children.

Waits said her younger daughter was ready to get her shot as Waits said she hoped it meant we can eventually stop masking. Her older daughter was nervous around needles, so Waits said they reviewed some educational programming like the Mystery Doug series that touch on the science of vaccines, which she said helped her process what was happening to make the whole experience easier.

Waits said both her daughters were a little sore around the area of the vaccine, but otherwise fine.

I have a great sense of relief now that they are vaccinated, Waits said. Over the course of this pandemic we have had a couple COVID-19 exposures from school and other activities, and so their vaccination will provide another layer of protection to mitigate their chances of contracting COVID-19. I do believe they are safer with the protections afforded by vaccination.

Waits said her older daughter said she agrees with the nurses at Blue Ridge Pediatrics who told her that the flu shot does feel worse than the COVID-19 shot, and that watching TV during the shot itself is a helpful way to get through it.

Adrienne Stumb had her 8-year-old daughter Maddie vaccinated at one of the clinics at Hardin Park, which Stumb said was well run and organized.

Stumb said her daughter felt no symptoms from the first dose except for some tenderness at the injection site. She said shots are not her daughters favorite thing, but she gave a big smile after she was done so she could send a picture to both sets of grandparents.

While the district has done well with keeping COVID-19 spread low, a 10 day quarantine for exposure is hard on students who need direct instruction, Stumb said. Fully vaccinated students do not have to quarantine with exposure unless they show symptoms. My husband and I felt this was the best way to make sure she gets consistent schooling, we protect her and those around her, and we are able to attend work and fulfill our own obligations.

Maddie Stumb said she thinks its important to get the shot so that she can see her friends in person again without masks.

Stumb said that parents have to make the best decision for their own children, but she thinks talking directly to their pediatrician is the best way to get thorough and factual information about vaccines.

Waits said that every family gets to make the decision that works for them, but her experience vaccinating her children assured her that the provider offering the vaccine are doing so with the health and safety of the communitys children in mind.

My daughters actually got vaccinated on different days. My older child wasnt feeling well at the time our original appointment was scheduled, so I called the advice nurse at Blue Ridge Pediatrics who advised me to wait until my daughter was feeling better to vaccinate. I took my younger daughter (to) our original appointment time, and the advice nurse helped me find another appointment time for my older daughter. This exchange really solidified for me that our medical providers have our best interest at heart, Waits said.

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COVID-19 vaccines for children being administered across High Country, approximately 15 percent partially vaccinated - Watauga Democrat

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