Allen County facing ‘big demand’ for vaccinations for young children

Coronavirus

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Children age 5-11 have been eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for just over a week.

At Allen County’s Memorial Coliseum vaccination site, as of the end on Monday, Nov. 8, 478 children age 5-11 have gotten their first dose of the shot. The site was not open on Tuesday.

Mindy Waldron, the health department’s administrator, said by the end of Wednesday, around 120 pediatric vaccinations will likely be added to that total.

“We’ve seen a big demand for vaccination in this 5-11 group,” said Dr. Matthew Sutter, the Allen County Health Commissioner. “So, there were a lot of people who were really waiting for this. The first few days it was available, there were lots of people coming in.

According to the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH), 8,534 out of 608,800 children age 5-11 statewide received their first shot. That is about 1.4 percent.

While that percentage may appear low, Dr. Sutter said it doesn’t cause him any concern right now.

“It will take a time to ramp up,” said Dr. Sutter. “What we’ve known is that each age group, as they get younger, (demand) tends to be a little less. The numbers are lower for vaccination for each of the age groups.”

A spokesperson for the state health department said it expects this number to increase as the vaccine becomes more widely available, “including in doctor’s offices, where many parents may be more comfortable.”

Dr. Sutter added that parents getting their children vaccinated should be a priority.

“It’s a good idea to get vaccinated for this just like we get vaccinated for everything else,” said Dr. Sutter. “Kids can carry this and spread it to their family.

“So, even though kids 5-11 are very low risk for hospitalization or death, people in their households are not necessarily the same.”

Dr. Matthew sutter, allen county health commissioner

The health commissioner said since Halloween, the county has seen a spike in cases, which is typical after any holiday where people gather in big groups. He said the county is back up to about 150 cases per day again.

“We expected to see a little bit of a bump after Halloween. This is actually going up a little bit more than that. So I don’t know if it’s only Halloween. It may be other things too,” said Dr. Sutter. “I think people are very relaxed right now and like it’s kind of over. Again, if you’re vaccinated, you’re pretty safe. You’re not 100% safe, but you’re pretty safe and if you are unvaccinated, there’s still significant risk, especially with the holidays coming up with people gathering together.”

Hoosiers can call 211 or visit ourshot.in.gov to learn more about how to schedule a vaccine appointment.

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