Published: 11/7/2021 10:43:22 AM
NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton health department plans to open vaccination clinics in the city for children aged 5 to 11 from this Sunday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a recommendation for children in this age group to get the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine against COVID-19 as soon as possible. According to the CDC, this recommendation extends vaccine eligibility to approximately 28 million children in the United States.
Merridith O’Leary, Northampton’s public health director, said in a statement: “Vaccinating this large group in our communities is an exciting step to the other side of this pandemic. It is important that we get our children vaccinated as soon as possible. ”
Doses of the pediatric vaccines will be administered on Sunday at The Elks Lodge, 17 Spring St. in Florence, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, for the next six weeks, vaccines will be available to children ages 5 to 11 during after-school hours at the Elks Lodge, as well as other community-oriented locations and public schools in Northampton.
With help from Northampton Public Schools, the Hilltown Community Health Centers, and staff at Northampton Area Pediatrics and Cooley Dickinson Hospital, the city hopes to bring the vaccine to children regardless of obstacles such as transportation needs or previous health status.
“(The vaccine) has been found safe and effective by the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and our local pediatricians and infectious disease experts,” O’Leary said.
Northampton’s health department will also work with the Hampshire County Medical Reserve Corps and the Hampshire Public Health Preparedness Coalition to prepare “mobile clinics” that will make the pediatric vaccine more accessible in all neighborhoods of the city.
In addition, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments and local nurse leaders are working with the State Department of Public Health to deliver a traveling “Vax Bus” directly to schools in the area. These pop-up vaccination sites are aimed at children ages 5 to 11, but will also administer adult vaccinations and boosters to anyone who is eligible.
Some Vax Bus destinations include Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg on November 16, Deerfield Elementary School on November 17, William E. Norris School in Southampton on November 18, Sunderland Elementary School on November 19, and Leverett Elementary School on December 3.
Vaccination registrations can be made at franklincountymavaccine.org for Vax Bus appointments and at northamptonma.gov/2219/Vaccine-Clinics for the various clinics being offered around Northampton in the coming weeks.
Northampton’s public health nurse Kate Kelly said: “I had tears in my eyes when I opened the pediatric vaccine shipment this week,”
“Our staff and volunteers are ready to make Sunday and the weeks ahead a success,” she said. “We are planning a fun, festive opening day on Sunday.”