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OHSU Primary Care Clinic will be offering Pfizer pediatric vaccines to this younger age group.

PMG PHOTO: DIEGO G. DIAZ - A child receiving a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at Aloha-Huber Park K-8 school in Beaverton on Friday, Nov. 12. The OHSU Primary Care Clinic in Scappoose is eager to welcome the newest age group qualifying for a COVID-19 vaccination.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that children between the ages of 5 and 11 years receive the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Matthew Chan, interim medical director at the Scappoose clinic, says his clinic is set to begin vaccinations.

"We just got our supply in of pediatric COVID vaccines," Chan said. "We're slowly ramping up – and getting kids in for their vaccinations – I think our first person is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 19."

Some parents are quite eager to get their little ones vaccinated.

"They've been asking us for months now, when can I get my child vaccinated with COVID," Chan said. "So now we're fortunate enough to be able to provide that to them."

Asked if parents have expressed reservations about vaccines for their kids, Chan said, "I think with this vaccine, of course, folks have had concerns about side effects, and reservations because it's something new for their child that they haven't received before."

Chan continued, "That's our job, in the primary care world, to go over people's hesitancy about the vaccines and how we can alleviate some of those reservations."

COURTESY PHOTO: OHSU - Dr. Matthew Chan is interim medical director at OHSU Primary Care Clinic in Scappoose.When it comes to how effective these vaccines can be, Chan noted that kids from 5 to 11 tolerate the vaccine quite well and have displayed fewer side effects than in the adult groups.

Asked if kids themselves fear vaccines or look forward to them, Chan commented, "I think it's hard because you're talking about a large range of maturity (in this age group). I will say that, in general, kids don't like getting shots. It's a poke in the arm. Other than that, I think a lot of kids are willing to get it.

"They're happy because they know that if they can get their shot, they can go back to school, be around their friends and feel safe."

More child vaccinations ought to mean fewer interruptions to the school year. That would be good news for school districts like St. Helens, which temporarily closed several schools and shifted back to distance learning earlier this fall due to sick students.

"The more kids who can get vaccinated against COVID, the more kids will be protected when they are at school, the less likely they'll have these big COVID outbreaks," Chan said.

"One of the biggest things we're trying to do is not only prevent people getting sick, but just also preventing the transmission as well," Chan said.

Columbia County has lagged behind neighboring Clatsop, Washington and Multnomah counties in its COVID-19 vaccination rate — although the higher-than-average vaccination rates in Scappoose and Columbia City are comparable to those in places like Hillsboro and Forest Grove.

Chan is hoping to see a trend toward more people getting vaccinated in Columbia County.

"I have really appreciated the folks who have come out and gotten vaccinated, especially early on in the pandemic," Chan said.

Chan continued, "We do have some work to do to, to do what we can to boost that rate up. We encourage people to reach out to their primary care person. We just want to have a dialogue."

Chan was asked if vaccines in these younger kids will help get COVID-19 cases under control.

"I think we're very hopeful that this will help," he said, although he added: "It won't be complete control until more adults get vaccinated."

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