If the current pace of early vaccinations in children age 5 to 11 is any indicator, area schools could see COVID-19 infection rates drop significantly within a month or two, according to the Rock County Health Department.

Since the Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of vaccinations for younger children in late October, about 12% of the county’s newly eligible population have received at least one dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 shot.

This comes in the midst of a resurgence of positive COVID-19 cases, with both the School District of Janesville and the county seeing infections not recorded since January.

Based on the timing of the Pfizer vaccine series—which includes two doses administered three weeks apart—local epidemiologist Nick Zupan said it could take six to eight weeks for any impact to be seen, but he said the initial surge in vaccinations is encouraging.

If inoculations of younger children continues at the current rate, Zupan said he expects area 5- to 11-year-olds to reach a level similar to that of the 12 to 15 age group, which stands at around 46% who have received at least one dose.

Increasing immunization rates within one age group, Zupan said, benefits the community, however unevenly.

“When additional groups have been made eligible for the vaccine in the past, we have seen the differences between neighborhoods persist,” he said.

There are several factors that prevent vaccinations rates from rising, including apprehension from parents. “There will be some parents who will take a wait-and-see approach before having their children vaccinated,” Zupan said.

Another could be a waning of vaccinations after the initial surge.

Zupan said broader eligibility of people to get vaccinated will help reduce further spread of the virus, hospitalizations and deaths.

“It is encouraging to see that (1,962) children in the age group locally have gotten vaccinated already, and I hope this pace continues,” he said.

Currently, the health department is hosting an on-site clinic for vaccinations of everyone age 5 and older. Clinic administrators are offering free vaccinations from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays. Walk-ins are welcome. Parental consent is required for minors under 18. Booster shots are also available for nearly everyone.

Appointments can be made through the Rock County Health Department website or by calling 608-352-6727.


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