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Vaccination Clinic Saturday will Include Pediatric Doses for 5-11 year-olds

Vaccines now available for kids 5-11.

As soon as the FDA and CDC announced the approval of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for kids 5-11 years olds, South Peninsula Hospital in Homer was ready to take appointments, according to spokesperson Derotha Ferraro.

“We learned it early enough that we were able to shift some of the appointments at this weekend's vaccination clinic to include children. So this Saturday, Nov. 6, at the high school, we will be having a vaccine clinic and there will be two different offerings there,” she said. “So the first is that we'll be doing the adult boosters and the other offering, hot off the press, we'll also be offering the pediatric doses for children five to 11.”

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff said the vaccine news was welcomed in the halls of the central office.

“The staff at leadership at the school district is really excited about this opportunity and for everybody to get vaccinated that can,” she said.

Erkeneff said only two schools on the Southern Peninsula have universal masking in place at the moment, Chapman School in Anchor Point and the Ninilchik School. She added that a change will soon be coming to the district’s “close-contact” policy.

“So if somebody's identified as a close contact at school, and it could be a staff or a teacher, if they're asymptomatic, they'll be allowed to come to school if they wear face covering at all times and conduct active monitoring for symptoms,” Erkeneff said. “And then any athletes have to take an antigen test every school day. So more details will be coming about about that, but that's also at the request of the school board to keep more children in school.”

A caller phoned in to ask about the so-called Covid Early Treatment Summit facilitated by the mayor in Anchorage last week, and wanted to know how to verify differing claims about the disease. Alaska Public Health Nurse Lorne Carroll had some tips.

“Check to see if they have references and don't hesitate to look into those references and ask someone if you don't know,” he said. “So you could call up your doctor or the Public Health Center and then secondly check or ask yourself, “Does it come from a trusted resource in general?” And then lastly I would say talk to the folks in your network and your doctor.”

There’s also emerging news about vaccine mandates among federally-funded programs, such as many at the hospital. Ferraro says both the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have published new rules.

“The OSHA mandate applies to employers of 100 or more employees. It also applies to some federal contractors, government contractors,” she said. “And then the CMS mandate is for healthcare workers and a pretty long pretty broad list of what ‘health care workers’ mean.”

Currently, according to Ferraro, 70 percent of employees at SPH are fully vaccinated, which she says is about average for the hospital industry. It’s about 20 percent higher than the population of the Kenai Peninsula in general. Ferraro added that six people were admitted to SPH with Covid-19 in the past week, one of the higher weekly figures the hospital has recorded.