By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Child COVID-19 vaccinations underway

Marcus Larson/News-Register##Five-year-old Zeke Schmidt and his mother, Elsa, center, wait in line at Duniway Middle School with hundreds of others seeking COVID-19 vaccinations. The clinic gave out 187 pediatric shots on Veterans Day. Another clinic is scheduled at Duniway on Dec. 4.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Five-year-old Zeke Schmidt and his mother, Elsa, center, wait in line at Duniway Middle School with hundreds of others seeking COVID-19 vaccinations. The clinic gave out 187 pediatric shots on Veterans Day. Another clinic is scheduled at Duniway on Dec. 4.


Vaccination of children against COVID-19 is now being offered in Yamhill County. The Yamhill County Health Department and McMinnville School District are both hosting clinics.

County Health and Human Services Director Lindsey Manfrin said the Oregon Health Authority has conducted a survey of parental views on vaccination of their children. “About a third of parents indicated they would get the vaccine, another third will likely get it but want to wait a little bit and another third are undecided or not planning to,” she said.

Manfrin said the county is taking two approaches to help ease parents’ minds: A free, confidential phone line where they can ask questions, and ready access.

“We plan to make the vaccine as easy to access as possible for kids. We continue to offer other first and second doses as well as boosters,” she said.

“We know many people, including parents, might have questions about the vaccine and we encourage them to ask those questions,” Manfrin said. “We have partnered with Providence Newberg to host a free and confidential phone line for people to call a healthcare provider and ask questions about the vaccine.

“We are finding that due to stigma related to the vaccine people want a confidential place to ask questions and we are grateful for the partnership with Providence to provide this. The phone number is 971-326-8718, option 9.”

At a clinic the McMinnville School District hosted Thursday, a day off from classes, 187 children received pediatric doses. In addition, 90 adults received booster shots.

The district will host another clinic at Duniway Middle School on Dec. 4, giving those who received a first dose on Veterans Day three weeks between doses.

McMinnville Superintendent Debbie Brockett said the goal is to “keep our students and staff safe so we can continue face-to-face learning all year.” Giving children the opportunity to be vaccinated gives her hope that fewer students will contract COVID over the winter, she said.

County Public Health and Providence Health & Services are assisting with the clinics.

Manfrin said that as of Thursday, 481 children between the ages of 5 and 11 had received a dose. She said there are an estimated 9,472 children in that age group countywide.

In the four weeks between Oct. 17 and Nov. 7, some 94 local children age 9 and under were diagnosed with COVID-19, and 150 in the 10 to 19 age range.

Over the course of the pandemic, 56,126 Oregon children have gotten COVID-19. Child cases began increasing dramatically in July, as the Delta variant surged in Oregon, but the OHA said it believes they peaked in September.

Recent cases, it said, are highest in the unvaccinated 5 to 11 age group. It said 460 children in that group were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the first week of November.

Children who identify as Hispanic have been especially hard hit. Cases are also disproportionately high among children who are Black, American Indian, Alaska Native and Pacific Islander as well.

“Health inequities are unfair and avoidable differences in health status, due to race or ethnicity,” the OHA states on its website.

Pediatric cases have been highest in southern and eastern counties where the vaccinate rate generally runs lower. The pediatric rate is higher in Yamhill County, 6,149 per 100,000, than in neighboring Washington and Clackamas counties.

Some pediatric hospitals in other states were overwhelmed during the Delta surge. Child hospitalizations in Oregon remain relatively rare, although they increased for infants and children up to age 4 in August and September.

Three children in the state have died, and 59 have developed multi-system inflammatory syndrome.

Little is known yet about long-term effects of COVID-19 on children, but the disease is known to cause weeks or months of multi-organ or autoimmune symptoms in some adults and children, even those who had only mild symptoms or were asymptomatic.

Long COVID is now considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Symptoms can include coughing, fatigue, difficulty thinking, chest or stomach pain, difficulty sleeping, headache, heart palpitations, joint or muscle pain, changes in smell or taste, dizziness and others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A study published in the journal Nature last spring showed that people who had COVID-19 had a 59% higher chance of dying than non-infected people, for up to six months after infection, even if their illness was mild.

So far, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in children in the 5 to 11 and 12 to 17 ranges, but trials are underway for the Moderna vaccine. In October, the company announced results so far were comparable to those for adults.

The company sought FDA approval for use of its vaccine in 12- to 17-year-olds in June, but a decision has not yet been forthcoming.

Pediatric vaccine doses are smaller than those used for adults. No vaccines have yet been approved for children younger than 5.

For vaccination rates overall, Yamhill County falls in the mid-range in Oregon, with 63.3% of its population age 5 and older having received at least one dose and 58.9% at least two.

Vaccination rates are higher in the Portland metro counties of Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah, and in Polk, Marion, Lane, Lincoln, Deschutes and Benton, but lower in the rest of the state. Gilliam, Umatilla, Grant, Malheur and Lake counties have the lowest vaccination rates.


Reporter Starla Pointer contributed to this story.


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