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COVID-19 vaccination events will be held in Scappoose, Vernonia and Rainier during the month of November.

PMG FILE PHOTO - OHSU nurse Jacqueline Furuno fills a syringe with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
Now that the coronavirus vaccine is available for 5- to 11-year-olds, Columbia Health Services is going to make it easy for these youngsters to get the jab.

A vaccination event will be held from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, by Columbia Health Services at Grant Watts Elementary School, located at 52000 S.E. Third Place in Scappoose.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, a similar event is scheduled in Vernonia from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The next day, Thursday, Nov. 18, kids in Rainier can get vaccinated during the same hours.

Sherrie Ford, director of Columbia Health Services, said the goal is to provide flexibility.

"When we heard that the vaccine was being considered for the younger kids, we wanted to jump on it and make sure we had a plan in place, because we knew there would be some families who wanted to get their kids vaccinated as soon as it was available," Ford said.

An information station will be available at the events and a physician or family nurse practitioner will help answer any questions about the vaccine.

"We know how hard it is to get into primary care providers right now, as well," Ford said. "We wanted an opportunity for families to come without any commitment to get the vaccine. If you have questions, then come and ask your questions of someone."

Ford said the events are also open to adults who may need their booster shots or their first shot.

"We will have all four vaccines available," she said, referring to the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson adult vaccines plus the pediatric Pfizer vaccine, which uses a much smaller dose.

Kids who are nervous about getting a shot may be reassured by some fun and games.

"We have games, prizes and a movie on the big screen for kids to stay entertained," Ford said. "As they leave, they get their vaccination card and a ticket to the ice cream truck that's waiting for them outside."

These vaccination events are being held with the hope that vaccinated youngsters and adults will feel good about their level of COVID-19 risk deep into the winter.

"We wanted to have something in place to provide a way so that by the time they get their second dose, and they wait their two weeks, they're fully vaccinated for the winter holiday," Ford said.

Looking ahead at the school year, Ford noted that quarantine rules differ between those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated. Vaccinated individuals don't have to quarantine if they've been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, unless they develop symptoms themselves.

"Having more school-age kids able to be vaccinated could help with school attendance and participation, and more importantly, to reduce the risk of illness, and that's what we're going for," she said.

Ford continued, "I'm excited that we're taking the next steps to help increase immunity in our community. I've been really impressed with the questions I've gotten from parents wanting to be involved in making this important health decision for their kids."

Columbia Health Services is a nonprofit organization that partners with schools and the community to increase healthcare access and increase access to other services that families need.

The organization operates school-based health centers around the county.

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