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CDC gives final OK on vaccine for ages 5 to 11. First shipments arrive in Forsyth.
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CDC gives final OK on vaccine for ages 5 to 11. First shipments arrive in Forsyth.

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A kid-size version of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 received on Tuesday the final two key federal regulatory authorizations.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced her approval of the Pfizer vaccine version hours after a CDC advisory panel gave its recommendation.

The Pfizer vaccine for ages 5 to 11 is about one-third of the strength of the adult version, and the shot will use smaller needles.

Also Tuesday: the first shipments of that version of the Pfizer vaccine arrived at the Triad’s three main healthcare systems and the Forsyth County Department of Public Health.

“We will begin scheduling appointments as soon as we get the green light from CDC and DHHS,” Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist spokesman Joe McCloskey said.

Meanwhile, two more Forsyth residents have died from COVID-19, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday.

That made October the deadliest month locally since vaccines became available.

There were 54 COVID-19-related deaths in Forsyth during October as listed by DHHS.

COVID-19 deaths are reported on the day they are confirmed by officials, so it’s possible that more deaths could be reported for the month.

DHHS reported Tuesday 47 new cases in Forsyth.

DHHS said last week that there will be “ample supply” statewide in North Carolina for those ages 5 to 11.

For example, Baptist said Tuesday it has received 6,900 doses for the Triad and Northwest N.C. in what it termed “waves 1 and 2.”

Cone said it expects to receive between 900 and 1,200 doses for the age group this week.

However, it’s likely the doses won’t be administered by the Forsyth health department until Friday or Saturday at the earliest, Forsyth health director Joshua Swift said Tuesday before the final regulatory approvals were granted.

DHHS said that more than 750 locations statewide “are preparing to provide vaccines to (the 5 to 11) age group, including doctors’ offices, pharmacies, local health departments, community vaccination events and family vaccination sites.”

About 45% of Forsyth residents ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated, as well as 52% of those ages 18 to 24, Swift said.

About 20,000 of the 35,500 children ages 5 to 11 in Forsyth would be fully vaccinated if the Pfizer vaccine is approved for them, Swift projected.

School clusters

A sixth school — Sedge Garden Elementary — within Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has been listed by DHHS as having a current COVID-19 cluster.

A cluster is defined as at least five cases over a 28-day period. The state does not report when the cases were diagnosed.

However, a facility or school must be at least 28 days removed from its latest new case to be taken off the list.

The Sedge Garden involves four students and one staff member.

For Sherwood Forest Elementary, six students are infected — up from four in the previous report — and one staff member.

Seven infected students and one infected staff member remain listed at both Mount Tabor High and Southeast Middle.

For Carter High, a non-traditional school for students with exceptional needs, infections among three students and two staff members are listed on the current dashboard.

For Paisley IB Middle, five students make up a COVID-19 cluster.

The biggest clusters reported for Triad and Northwest North Carolina schools remain at Revolution Academy Charter in Guilford County with 13 students and six staff members, and at North Wilkes Middle with 15 students.

DHHS removed the second clusters involving Central Wilkes Middle and West Wilkes Middle from its dashboard, along with a cluster at Wilkesboro Elementary.

Arbor Acres update

The latest DHHS update of COVID-19 clusters among congregate care facilities has removed Arbor Acres United Methodist Retirement Community Inc. and Trinity Elms Health & Rehab from the dashboard.

Arbor Acres had been listed with a cluster involving 22 staff members and eight residents, two of whom died.

Arbor Acres said Oct. 21 there are just two staff members with active infections, with the last positive case reported Sept. 30. Officials said there has not been a new case among residents since Aug. 15.

Arbor Acres said it has no comment about being withdrawn from the dashboard, while DHHS referred to its cluster policy when asked for comment.

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As of Nov. 8, Arbor Acres said its current staff is 100% compliant with its vaccination policy.

"Nine staff members received exemptions consistent with our policies and seven staff members were terminated due to vaccination policy violations," Arbor Acres said in a statement. "We continue to be committed to taking all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents and staff.”

DHHS has responded by saying that an outbreak is considered over “if there is not evidence of continued transmission within the facility.”

Meanwhile, Trinity Elms had been listed with a cluster of 23 residents, including two deaths, and 10 staff members.

Also removed from the cluster dashboard was Creekside Manor of Forsyth with two staff members listed as infected.

The other large COVID-19 clusters currently being counted in Forsyth long-term care centers are:

* Oak Forest Health and Rehabilitation is listed with one more infected staff members for a total of 19 for the outbreak, as well as two more residents for a total of 11.

* Bradford Village of Kernersville-West is listed with 14 residents and eight staff, unchanged from the previous report.

Overall, 11 long-term care centers in Forsyth were listed with clusters. There are a combined 57 staff members considered infected, along with 41 residents, including three who died.

For the Triad and Northwest N.C., the largest current cluster at a long-term care facility is at Mountain Vista Health Park in Davidson County where 41 residents have been infected, including three who have died, and 17 staff members. Those totals are unchanged from last week’s report.

Forsyth update

Forsyth has had 52,009 cases of the virus and 566 related deaths since daily counts began in mid-March 2020.

September’s 53 COVID-19 deaths made it the fourth-deadliest month of the pandemic for Forsyth. There were 67 deaths in February and 59 in January before vaccines became widely available.

Before the delta variant became prevalent locally, Forsyth averaged 14 new cases per day over a two-week period in mid-to-late July. There were some days with no new reported cases during that period.

By contrast, as of noon Tuesday, Forsyth had averaged 65 new cases per day over the most recent two-week period.

Since early July, the vast majority of the COVID-related deaths have been among unvaccinated individuals, hospital officials say.

There also have been deaths involving vaccinated people who were immunocompromised or who had other health issues.

About 35% of Forsyth’s COVID-19-related deaths, or 197, have occurred since April 15. There have been 104 deaths since Sept. 1.

Statewide numbers

DHHS reported 1,214 new cases statewide Tuesday, compared with 1,096 on Monday, 1,682 on Sunday and 2,172 on Saturday.

Monday’s case count is the lowest daily statewide count since 871 on July 19.

There were 26 COVID-19-related deaths reported statewide between noon Monday and noon Tuesday.

Across North Carolina, there have been 1.48 million COVID-19 cases and 18,130 deaths since the pandemic began.

DHHS listed 1,214 COVID-19-related hospitalizations statewide as of noon Tuesday, up three from Monday’s report, which was the lowest statewide count since 1,167 on July 29.

Hospitals in the 17-county Triad and Northwest N.C. region reported a combined 231 COVID-19 patients.

The latest statewide positive test rate is 6.4% based on 27,409 tests conducted Sunday.

For Forsyth, the average positive test rate was 5.3% over the past 14 days.

State officials have said a statewide positive test rate of 5% or higher represents an elevation in community spread of COVID-19.

DHHS said 67% of adult North Carolinians are fully vaccinated, or about 5.39 million with the two-dose regimen and 435,895 with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

As of noon Tuesday, 214,950 Forsyth residents — or 56% of all residents — are fully vaccinated.

By comparison, Guilford is 56% fully vaccinated, Durham 65%, Wake 66% and Mecklenburg 57%.

Among adults, 68% of adult Forsyth residents are fully vaccinated. By comparison, Guilford is at 67%, Durham 77%, Wake 80% and Mecklenburg 69%.

Pfizer youth COVID-19 vaccine

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist received its first doses of Pfizer BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for youth ages 5-11 on Tuesday. The organization expects 5,400 doses for regional distribution.

Pfizer youth COVID-19 vaccine

The Pfizer vaccine for ages 5 to 11 is expected to be about one-third of the strength of that for adults and with smaller needles.

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@rcraverWSJ

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