Midland Health Director Welcomes Approval of Pfizer Booster for Ages 5 to 12

The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the Pfizer COVID booster injection for children ages 12 to 15 was welcome news for Midland County Medical Director Cathy Bodnar.

On Monday, the US Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to allow children ages 12 to 15 to receive a single booster dose; To shorten the waiting time between the second dose of Pfizer and the booster vaccine from six months to five months; And to allow a third primary series dose for some immunocompromised children aged 5-11.

The Midland County Health Department is waiting to hear whether the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will recommend boosters; ACIP meets on Wednesday, January 5th.

Bodnar explained that ACIP is made up of health experts who do their due diligence before making decisions.

“We will quickly follow what the CDC is recommending,” Bodnar said. “We want to hear from these experts.”

In a recent newsletter, the Midland County Health Department reported that as of December 27, 2021, 33.4% of children ages 5-11 had received their first dose of the COVID vaccine while 27.3% had received both doses.

Once a Pfizer booster is approved by the CDC for ages 5 to 12, the booster must be available through primary care physicians, local pharmacies and the Midland County Health Department. The Ministry of Health currently hosts outpatient clinics from 10 am to 4:30 pm every Tuesday and by reservation only on Fridays.

Bodnar encourages residents to get the vaccine and booster wherever it is available yet that best fits their schedule. Vaccination sites can be located by visiting michigan.gov/covidvaccine.

“We have been able to meet the needs with our open clinics,” she said, adding that she did not know of any large community or school clinics being planned at this time.

Last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the state’s superintendent sent a letter to all Michigan administrators, recommending blanket indoor disguise for all teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status. In response, Michael Sarrow, the principal of Midland Public Schools, sent a special statement urging staff and students to wear masks and vaccinate.

Bodnar said the county health department is encouraging schools to follow recommended mitigation measures in addition to being able to do so.

“I would like to see all the schools in our county need masks so we can get through this increase in Omicron and really do their best with social distancing,” Bodnar said. “We want as many layers of protection as possible.”

Bodnar said protection is paramount, especially with the Omicron variant in Michigan. She says that while Omicron has not officially appeared in Midland, COVID-19 case numbers have been volatile in recent weeks. It encourages residents to follow precautions and strongly recommends that people with cold or flu-like symptoms be tested for coronavirus, as both viruses share similar indicators.

“Omicron is expected to be a significant increase in the number of cases here. The more we can do to reduce the number of cases and be preventive, all the better,” Bodnar said.

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