The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will begin offering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11 next week, following a formal endorsement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday.
The hospital’s staff has been preparing for the announcement, and plans to begin offering pediatric vaccines on Thursday, Nov. 11, and Saturday, Nov. 13. Scheduling for next week’s appointments will begin on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 5 pm. Parents can use the hospital’s online scheduling platform at mvhospital.org, clicking the yellow banner at the top page, and following the prompts. The pediatric vaccines will be administered through the hospital’s drive-through vaccine station.
In a call with reporters Wednesday, hospital president and CEO Denise Schepici and chief nurse and COO Claire Seguin said the hospital is expecting a shipment of 300 pediatric vaccine doses. By the hospital’s estimate, there are 1,200 children who qualify for the Pfizer pediatric vaccine.
“It’s weekly that we get a delivery; we expect our first delivery to be 300 next week, and that’s why we’re opening those clinics,” Seguin said.
The pediatric doses are about one-third of the amount given to adults, and will be administered in two doses three weeks apart.
Seguin said the Island hospital has seen a higher vaccination rate for younger individuals, and hopes that trend continues with the pediatric shots. “We’re definitely encouraging 5- to 11-year-olds to get vaccinated. They are getting COVID, and they do get sick,” Seguin said. “What we’ve seen nationally for the 12- to 18-year-olds is that the vaccination rate was a little lower than adults, about 30 to 40 percent.”
Seguin also shared information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, a professional organization of pediatricians, about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for children.
“The vaccine works similarly to other vaccines that your child has been given. The technology behind the vaccine has been studied for decades, and there is no live virus in the vaccine, and the CDC has stated the vaccines have and will continue to have ‘the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.’ The evidence of its safety is overwhelming, and it will be the protection your child needs as the pandemic does not let up,” she said. “We have seen where the vaccine has been administered, COVID rates have been lower.”
The hospital continues to roll out vaccines for people on the Island. Seguin said the hospital expects to vaccinate between 400 and 500 more people this coming week with the first, second, and third doses. “I am happy to report we’ve passed a 30,000-shot milestone this week,” Seguin said.
There are no COVID-19 hospitalizations, and there have been no COVID-19-related transfers, according to Seguin.
No new COVID cases were reported Monday or Tuesday, and only one case on Sunday, as weekly case totals continue to decline.
The Martha’s Vineyard boards of health reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 last week, a decrease from the previous week’s 20 cases.
Of the 12 new cases:
- Six were reported from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, four were reported at TestMV, and two from other providers
- 10 cases are being monitored by public health officials, and two are not
- Six of those who tested positive were fully vaccinated, four were not vaccinated, one was partially vaccinated, and three have an unknown vaccination status
- Eight were symptomatic, one had no symptoms, and symptoms of three people were unknown
New cases have remained low since the Island saw a peak of 97 cases in August. The Island has averaged just over three cases per day for the month of October, while in August the Vineyard averaged closer to eight cases per day. Last week there were fewer than two cases per day, on average.
Meanwhile, the hospital is now rolling out booster shots for those who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to Pfizer booster shots, which have been available for the past month.
To qualify for Pfizer or Moderna booster doses individuals must have received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago and meet one of these criteria:
- At least 65 years old
- 18-64 years old with a qualifying medical condition (click here for a list of qualifying conditions)
- 18-64 years old and live or work in a high-risk setting (click here for a list of high-risk settings)
To qualify for the Johnson & Johnson booster dose, individuals must have received their first dose of the shot at least two months ago, and be at least 18 years of age.
The hospital is also offering mix-and-match vaccines for booster shots. Those who received Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines may choose which dose they want to receive for the booster shot, according to Seguin, following recommendations from the CDC. Seguin said the hospital is doling out booster appointments at a pace they can handle.
Schepici said that with winter on the way, the hospital is also offering flu vaccines. Additionally, she said, this time last year the Island saw a jump in COVID cases, but few cases of the flu. Now she is concerned the reverse may happen. “We won’t have as big of a blip as last year because people have been vaccinated, there’s some immunity, but we still have the variant out there,” Schepici said. “I’m hoping that given all the vaccination rates, it won’t be as bad.”
Meanwhile, the hospital has been busy with surgeries and births as of late. On Tuesday, the hospital had four new births, and expects 23 births total for November, which is high for the hospital.
“The seismic changes are what they call it,” Seguin said. “We definitely had a baby boom last week.”