Children, 5 to 11, could be fully vaccinated by holidays, Orange County leaders say

COVID-19 vaccine rollout starting Nov. 9

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County children ages 5-11 could be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as the winter holiday season, county leaders announced at a Thursday news conference.

Dr. Raul Pino, of the Florida Department of Health, said Orange County is teaming up with third-party provider Health Hero, which allows the state to pay for all the COVID-19 vaccine doses distributed in schools across the county.

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“Different providers will get different vaccines on different dates,” Pino said. “The health department for the immunization clinic is getting 5,000 doses and that should be on (Nov. 8 or Nov. 9). We already got the... syringes, the gloves and everything that comes with it.”

Vaccines will also be available to the 5-11 age group in pharmacies, supermarkets and pediatrician’s offices.

The county’s vaccine rollout is expected to start across 22 high schools on Nov. 9-11 and Nov. 13, according to Scott Howat, Chief Communications Officer for Orange County Public Schools.

Parents can take their children to any participating school within the district after school to receive the shot.

“They will serve our feeder patterns for the (elementary and middle) schools that feed those high schools,” Howat said. “We did a districtwide message to all of our parents yesterday.”

Howat added that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is completely voluntary, but he encourages parents and children to take advantage of this opportunity.

“Every decision for healthcare is a decision of the parent,” Pino added. “I would advise that they consult with a provider, a pediatrician if they have one... This is a preemptive approach for protection and prevention.”

Pino said the county’s vaccine schedule for the more than 126,000 children in that age group aims to ensure COVID-19 numbers continue to decline, especially with the anticipation of holiday travel.

“It has been designed this way on purpose because we want to vaccinate the largest number of possible children before the holidays,” Pino said. “We would like to see at least 50% of the students protected when they come back in January.”

As the county is rolling out these plans, Mayor Jerry Demings still hasn’t declared a victory over COVID-19 just yet, something he said comes when we reach zero transmissions.

Demings reported the total tally of COVID-19 cases within the county is up to 233,010 cases and the 14-day rolling positivity rate remains low at 3.15%. There were also 52 new deaths since the last briefing where he announced the county’s state of emergency was set to expire.

For more information about the upcoming vaccine rollout for children ages 5-11, visit Orange County Public School’s site.

About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.