Arizona poised to give COVID shots to kids

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The state’s top public health official says preparations are underway to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 if the federal government authorizes a lower-dose Pfizer vaccine in early November.

Don Herrington, acting director of the state Department of Health Services, also says parents should have their children vaccinated for COVID-19.

Arizona has over 600,000 children in the 5 to 11 age group, Herington said in a blog post Wednesday. “Arizona stands ready to vaccinate them,” he said.

Herrington said pediatric vaccinations will be available in some areas at special vaccination clinics at locations arranged with schools and local health care providers. He also said retail pharmacies and more than 900 providers such as pediatricians and community health clinics will provide the vaccinations to children.

He said pediatric vaccine providers will be identified on the state’s vaccination website.

Herrington said children should get the vaccine because there have been cases when otherwise healthy kids get extremely ill from COVID-19

He also said children are effective spreaders of the disease and that vaccinating children would move Arizona closer to herd immunity.

Arizona has been told by federal officials to expect an initial allocation of 224,700 pediatric doses, and “many more doses” are expected to begin arriving soon once the federal government expands vaccine eligibility, Herrington said.

In another development, Arizona on Thursday reported 2,495 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 49 more virus deaths, increasing the pandemic totals to 1,142,122 cases and 20,721 deaths.

Just under 1,700 COVID-19 patients occupied inpatient hospital beds as of Wednesday as that pandemic metric continued to hover around 1,700, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases and daily deaths both dropped over the past two weeks.

The rolling average of daily new cases decreased from 2,570.1 on Oct. 5 to 1,846.7 on Tuesday while the rolling average of daily deaths dipped from 41.6 to 32.4 during the same period.