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Hospital Will Begin Vaccinating Children Against Covid-19

November 3, 2021

By: Julia Wells, The Vineyard Gazette

Pediatric Covid-19 vaccines will be available for Island children aged 5-11 beginning next week, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital leaders announced Wednesday morning.

Appointment scheduling begins Thursday, officials said in a press briefing.

The announcement comes in the wake of a recommendation issued late Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine for children 5 through 11.

The Food and Drug Administration had authorized emergency use of the pediatric dose earlier last Friday.

The first pediatric vaccines will be administered on Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday, Nov. 11 and Saturday Nov. 13 at the hospital drive-through tent. Appointments can be booked using the online tool on the hospital website.

Scheduling goes live at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Hospital chief executive officer Denise Schepici and chief nurse and chief operating officer Clare Seguin said they were optimistic about the prospect of vaccinating even more of the eligible Island population as the Vineyard heads into the winter months, and Covid cases continue to fall.

Ms. Schepici and Ms. Seguin said the hospital is following all recommended guidelines by the CDC for the newly-available pediatric vaccines, which are a one third dose of the adult Pfizer dose.

About 1,200 Vineyard children are eligible to receive the vaccine, Ms. Seguin said. And she encouraged parents to vaccinate their children.

“Definitely I am encouraging five to 11-year-olds to get vaccinated,” the chief nursing officer said. “Children are getting Covid and they’re getting sick.”

Appointments remain available for booster shots too, and Ms. Schepici said many eligible Islanders are lining up for their third shots. The hospital is offering boosters shots for Pfizer, Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for people who are eligible. (Pfizer and Moderna: must be over 65 or meet other criteria and have had a shot at least six months earlier. J&J: must be 18 or older and have had a shot within two months. Detailed criteria is spelled out on the hospital website.)

“We are filling every [booster shot] appointment we release,” Ms. Schepici said. “I think we are going at a pace.” She encouraged eligible people seeking booster shots to check the hospital website frequently, as spaces open up.

Meanwhile, Ms. Seguin reported the Island passed a 30,000-shot milestone this week for vaccines administered.

She reported a total of 14,563 people had received a first shot, while 14,744 people had received a second shot, and 1,263 had received a booster shot.

Another 400-500 shots were expected to go into arms this week, she added.

In other brief news, Ms. Schepici said business continues to be brisk at the Island’s only hospital after a busy summer.

“Things are very busy. People are still catching up on a lot of deferred care, we are doing surgeries and filling up appointments rapidly,” she said.

She and Ms. Seguin also confirmed the maternity department is seeing a mini baby boom.

“Four babies were born yesterday, and 23 are expected in November,” Ms. Seguin said.

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