Genesee County Health Department rolls out pediatric vaccine clinic initiative

FLINT, Michigan — On November 9, the Genesee County Health Department held its first pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. One week prior, the CDC released a media statement recommending the COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11 years old. Marin Derwin, age 6, was one of the first pediatric patients in the county to receive her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine with her father, Tom Derwin. 

The Pfizer-BioNech COVID-19 vaccine has been found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5-11. According to the FDA, the vaccine was studied in approximately 3,100 children in the mentioned age group and no serious side effects have been detected in the study. The vaccine availability provides hope and a future for families concerned about the safety of their children under the age of 18 who are at risk for exposure to the virus. At the GCHD’s first vaccine clinic for pediatric patients, approximately 20 children received their first dose. 
Genesee County Health Department Registered Nurse Elizabeth Jones provides instructions prior to administering Marin Derwin's (age 6) first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The New York Times reported on November 11 that an average of 199 cases per day has been reported in Genesee County, an 18% increase from the average two weeks ago. To further combat the increasing numbers, the GCHD is providing multiple free vaccine clinics throughout the city and county over the next few weeks. 

Since the start of October 2021, 8,300 cases of COVID-19 in individuals under the age of 18 have resulted in hospitalization with 146 deaths in the 5-11 age group in the U.S. The ever-increasing concern health care professionals worry about are the unknown long-term complications in COVID-19 patients. 
Marin Derwin (age 6) receives her first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine while sitting on her father's lap.The conditions that carry on even after mild cases of positive COVID-19 patients are symptoms that persist for more than four weeks after the initial diagnosis. These symptoms can lead to people feeling unwell for months after the infection. Some of the symptoms that linger are: fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, memory/concentration problems, rapid heart rate, loss of smell or taste, depression or anxiety, and worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities. 

More worrisome are the different types of permanent damage the virus can have to multiple organs within the body. Some patients have lingering heart complications, chronic kidney impairment, stroke, and Guillain-Barre syndrome. In more severe cases of COVID-19, patients have experienced multi-organ failure or even mortality. 
Marin Derwin (age 6) and her father Facetime her mother (a local registered nurse) to show her bandaid and proof of her first COVID-19 vaccination.
In children with severe cases of COVID-19, the concern is the development of MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome). The vaccine provides protection against this severe condition caused by the COVID-19 virus. 

The GCHD and its staff continue to work with unwavering determination to meet the goal of having 70% of residents fully vaccinated by December 31, 2021. Currently, 47.5% of Genesee County residents are vaccinated. At the upcoming GCHD vaccine clinics, not only are pediatric patients allowed to obtain the vaccine but adults are able to obtain first dose, second dose, and booster COVID-19 vaccines. 

Derwin and her father together received their first COVID-19 vaccine together and are part of the hope of increasing herd immunity and a safer future for Genesee County residents.

For more information on the vaccine as well as the dates, times, and locations, visit: gchd.us/vaccinescheduler

Read more articles by Jenifer Veloso.