More than 900,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 across the U.S. were expected to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the day Wednesday, according to White House officials.
And 700,000 appointments for kids in this age group are on the calendar at pharmacies across the country, Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus response coordinator, said at a briefing Wednesday. The number of Long Island children ages 5 to 11 who had received the shot was not immediately available.
The update comes just about one week after about 28 million 5- to 11-year-olds became eligible to receive the low-dose Pfizer vaccine.
State health department officials said Wednesday night that 18,603 children in the 5-11 category, outside of New York City, have received their first shot. New York City officials said Wednesday more than 31,000 children in that age group have received their first shots in the five boroughs.
New York State has placed orders for 700,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, with 310,200 going to areas outside of New York City, according to the state Health Department.
On Long Island, 125 providers have ordered a total of 69,900 doses, the state said. Another 27,600 doses were ordered by Long Island chain pharmacies through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
Kids' shots on Long Island
Pediatricians across Long Island have been busy vaccinating children since they became eligible last week. Suffolk County has opened a COVID-19 vaccination clinic focused on kids ages 5 to 17 at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge. It operates at night and on weekends.
Allied Physicians Group has scheduled a two-day mass vaccination event for younger children this weekend at Coleman Country Day Camp in Freeport and Crestwood Country Day Camp in Melville. Officials said they could vaccinate up to 1,000 kids each day.
So far, more than 500 children are signed up to get vaccinated at Coleman on Saturday and 800 at Crestwood on Sunday, according to Dr. Kerry Frommer Fierstein, CEO of Allied Physicians Group.
Fierstein says many members of the Allied staff, from doctors to administrators, are volunteering their time to help make sure things run smoothly both days.
"I think everyone is excited to be a part of it," she said.
There was an increase in registrations after Allied hosted a webinar to answer parents' questions about the vaccine, including after-issues, side effects and other concerns.
"I think the webinar put a lot of people's minds at ease," Fierstein said.
Health officials have said vaccinating younger children is key to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said 66 children ages 5 to 11 have died from COVID-19 over the past year.
"What is clear is that COVID-19 poses a significant risk to our children with more than 2 million cases reported in children 5 to 11 since the start of the pandemic," Walensky said during the Wednesday briefing. "While children remain more resilient than adults, they still remain at risk."
Uptick in new cases
New York State recorded 5,138 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday based on 153,396 test results for a 3.35% daily positivity rate.
Nassau County accounted for 274 of the new cases, with 368 in Suffolk County.
Long Island’s seven-day average of positive test results has ticked up slightly over the last three days from 2.45% on Sunday to 2.50% on Monday and 2.62% on Tuesday.
There were 29 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday across the state, including one in Suffolk County.
Zients said the number of people overall getting their first shots had increased nationwide and credited mandates initiated at the federal, state and local levels.
"Looking at the last seven days alone, we’re averaging about 300,000 first shots per day; that’s the highest seven-day total in almost a month," he said during the briefing. "The simple truth is that vaccination requirements are working. In fact, vaccination requirements have helped reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans ages 12 and older by almost 40 percent — from about 100 million in late July to under 60 million now."
Meantime, 400 municipal workers have been granted exemptions to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's coronavirus vaccine mandate, but about 12,400 pending requests are being adjudicated, de Blasio said.
"This will play out over the coming days and weeks," the mayor said at his daily news briefing Wednesday.
On Nov. 1, 9,000 workers were on unpaid furlough, the consequence of failing to obey the mandate; as of Wednesday, 2,600 were off the job.
"So, obviously, a lot of employees, upon recognizing the opportunity to keep serving the public, keep getting paid, and be safe, to keep their families safe, keep their colleagues safe, keep the people they serve safe, they made the decision to come in and get vaccinated," de Blasio said.
He said that some of those ultimately granted exemptions would be allowed to continue in their current assignments; others would be given alternate posts — the policy for those who work in city public schools, who aren’t allowed to be in student-facing posts.
With Matthew Chayes
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