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COVID-19 vaccines for Napa County children on the way as two local seniors die of virus

COVID vaccine

Napa County on Wednesday announced a rollout of coronavirus vaccines for about 11,000 children ages 5 to 11 who are newly eligible for inoculation, on the same day county health officials confirmed the deaths of two elderly residents from COVID-19 last month.

Meanwhile, two vaccination clinics for younger children were announced for the Upvalley, with the first set for Friday.

Local doctors along with pharmacies and community organizations will begin providing smaller-size doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine following federal approval of the kid-size dose, Napa County's interim spokesperson Leah Greenbaum said in a statement. The county's program of free public vaccination clinics also will extend to separate sessions for 5- to 11-year-olds starting the week of Nov. 18, she announced.

Families can visit countyofnapa.org and click on the vaccine calendar to find an upcoming clinic.

“Vaccinating as much of our community as possible — including our children — is one of the most important ways to put this pandemic behind us,” said Dr. Karen Relucio, the county public health officer, said in the statement. “As the holiday season approaches, expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines means we can safely celebrate with extended family and friends — something that wasn’t a safe option last year.”

Earlier, the St. Helena Hospital Foundation announced two Upvalley clinics to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11, following federal approval this week of a lower-dose Pfizer vaccine for younger patients.

Clinics have been scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. Friday at St. Helena Primary School, 1701 Grayson Ave., and from 3 to 6 p.m. Nov. 12 in Calistoga at a location to be announced.

The Pfizer vaccine will be the first offered in Napa County to children younger than 12. All minors will be required to have a parent present to be inoculated, and all people must wear face masks and practice social distancing. No appointment or insurance is required.

In addition to COVID-19 vaccines, the St. Helena Hospital Foundation Mobile Health Unit provides free flu shots to anyone 2 or older at its vaccine clinics. The most up-to-date schedule for vaccine clinics is available at shhfoundation.org or on the St. Helena Hospital Foundation Facebook page.

The announcement of vaccination clinics for kids came on the same day California said it is immediately rolling out doses across the state, with about 500 organizations receiving their shipments through Monday. The state was allotted 1.2 million children’s doses from the federal government, with a sufficient supply for all newly eligible children expected to become available at more than 4,000 locations in the coming weeks, the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

Kid-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine cleared two final hurdles Tuesday — a recommendation from CDC advisers, followed by a green light from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vaccine — one-third the dose given to older children and adults and administered with kid-sized needles — requires two doses three weeks apart, plus two more weeks for full protection. That means children who get vaccinated before Thanksgiving will be covered by Christmas.

Earlier Wednesday, Napa County reported that two more residents died last month after contracting the coronavirus, raising the local death toll to 104 during the pandemic.

One patient was a woman who lived in the city of Napa but died Oct. 21 outside the county, while the other patient was a Yountville man who died within county boundaries Saturday, according to Leah Greenbaum, the county’s emergency services coordinator. Both patients were fully vaccinated and over the age of 85, she said.

Napa County authorities were not notified about the cause of the woman’s death until the release of an out-of-county death certificate listing COVID-19 as the cause, Greenbaum said Wednesday afternoon.

Napa County’s four previous deaths due to COVID-19 occurred on Oct. 11.

Meanwhile, the county reported 18 new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday and eight more Wednesday. (The county Health and Human Services agency’s COVID-19 informational website failed to update Tuesday because of a technical problem, according to Greenbaum.) As of Wednesday afternoon, eight people in Napa County were hospitalized with the virus, and 78% of local intensive-care beds were available.

Also Wednesday, Curative Inc. of San Dimas announced the opening of two new COVID-19 testing sites in Napa County. Residents can be tested at the Napa Valley Unified School District’s Education Center at 2425 Jefferson St. in Napa, or at a kiosk at Napa Junction Elementary School, 300 Napa Junction Road in American Canyon.

Both sites will offer shallow nasal PCR testing and will be open to all visitors at no out-of-pocket cost. Walk-up testing is available and appointments can be made in advance at curative.com, the company announced.

The Napa County Office of Education plans to host English and Spanish-language forums for parents to ask questions about pediatric COVID-19 vaccines from Napa County Public Health and local pediatricians during the week of Nov. 15, said Greenbaum, the county spokesperson. Residents can check napacoe.org for more information as the forums are scheduled.

Those who need help finding an appointment, connecting to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or scheduling a home visit if they are homebound, or who have any questions about vaccination access may contact the Napa County public information line at 707-253-4540 or email coronavirus@countyofnapa.org.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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You can reach Howard Yune at 530-763-2266 or hyune@napanews.com

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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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