Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and other local officials gathered in Columbia on Tuesday to provide an update on COVID-19 vaccine administration for county residents ages 5 to 11.
Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its final approval for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech two-dose vaccine for children as young as 5.
The Howard County Health Department on Friday began operating vaccination clinics five days a week at Howard Community College for children in the 5-11 age group. The vaccine is also available through many family medical practices, pediatricians, pharmacies and other retailers.
According to data from the Maryland Department of Health, 1,285 Howard County kids ages 5 to 11 have been vaccinated as of Tuesday morning, county spokesperson Sasha Nader said.
Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman said the county initially received a total of 9,300 doses, which were divided among 15 providers. The health department received 4,200 doses and the private sector received 5,100 doses, which is enough to fully immunize 4,650 children. There are an estimated 31,000 Howard County children in the 5-11 age group, according to Rossman.
“At the end of the day, getting this group vaccinated is another step toward beating COVID-19,” Ball said at the news conference at Howard Community College. “We’re closing the gap each and every day, and we’re determined to reach every individual and family and encourage vaccination.”
At least 95.4% of county residents 12 and older have received at least one dose and 88.5% are fully vaccinated, one of the highest community vaccination rates in the country, according to the county.
“This vaccine will help prevent serious illness and cut down on disruptive quarantines for children seeking a normal school year, athletics and return to activities like birthday parties and family holiday gatherings,” Rossman said.
Prior to the CDC approval, the Howard County Public School System surveyed parents of kindergarten through sixth grade students to gauge their vaccination intentions. Of the 44% of parents who responded, it was revealed that 87% of children in that age group would be vaccinated, according to schools Superintendent Michael Martirano.
The county health department released data indicating that 83.9% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the county are fully vaccinated and 91.1% have received at least one dose, Martirano said.
The Maryland Department of Health said Tuesday that more than 18,000 Maryland children have been inoculated against COVID-19 in the first few days since those ages 5 to 11 became eligible.
“I hope that Howard County will lead the state with the numbers of … 5- to 11-year-olds who are vaccinated just as we have with other groups,” Martirano said. “We look forward to continued partnerships with the Howard County government and the Howard County Health Department as we focus on collective goals of ensuring that all who are able to receive the vaccine do so.”
Howard Community College will be holding vaccination clinics for 5- to 11-year-olds at Duncan Hall at 6040 Scholarship Drive from 3 to 7 p.m., five days a week as supply allows. Information about the online preregistration process is available at howardcountymd.gov/health/pediatric-covid-19-vaccine. Preregistration is required for the estimated 400 appointments per day.
“I am proud today to continue our partnership with Howard County in getting our youngest residents vaccinated,” the college’s interim president, Lynn Coleman, said in a statement. “From the beginning of the pandemic, Howard Community College has answered the call to help and hosting this new vaccination clinic is critically important to the public health of our community.”