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Pfizer authorized for children ages 5-11

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5-11.

Meanwhile, the Piedmont Health District continues to enjoy another week of consistent downtrends in COVID-19 cases among all counties.

According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), From Monday, Oct. 25, to Monday, Nov. 1, Prince Edward County saw 14 new coronavirus cases. Buckingham was up by 24 new cases over the last week, and Cumberland was up by five cases. Charlotte County saw 18 new virus cases last week while Lunenburg saw 11.

The state’s virus numbers are also continuing to drop. On Monday, Nov. 1, Virginia saw 834 new cases of the virus. That’s down from 943 cases the previous Monday. The state’s seven-day moving average for COVID cases sat at 1,328 on Nov. 1, down from 1,545 one week earlier.

Centra Health was reporting 52 COVID patients at Lynchburg General and Centra Southside Community Hospital in Farmville on Friday, including nine ICU patients, all of which were actively being ventilated. Six of the health care provider’s ICU patients were unvaccinated, while three were vaccinated. Fourteen of the hospital system’s 52 virus patients were vaccinated, while the remaining 38 were unvaccinated.

Longwood University in Farmville was reporting one active COVID-19 case as of Sunday, Oct. 31, with a cumulative total of 102 cases since Aug. 14.

Hampden-Sydney College was reporting two active cases and two individuals quarantining as of the college’s last dashboard update on Friday. The college has seen a total of nine positive employee cases and three positive staff cases this semester.

On Monday, Piedmont Health District Director Dr. Maria Almond noted the weekend’s Halloween festivities were a testament to how far the area has come in COVID-19 mitigation.

“This Halloween was truly a celebration of where we have come in this epidemic and a victory for our understanding of how COVID is spread and the tools we continue to use to manage the spread of COVID,” Almond said. “Being able to see our children enjoy a moment outside, to see the creativity of candy delivery mechanisms that allowed for social distancing and fun, to be together in community and simultaneously a little apart showed me that we are, indeed, finding ways to live with COVID.”

Almond noted while case numbers have continued to decline throughout the health district, the percentage of positive COVID tests remains steady.

“COVID does remain with us, and we need to continue to take all precautions to protect each other and particularly the most vulnerable. Each vaccinated person is an important layer of protection for us all.”

Vaccination rates in each county of the health district, as of Monday, were as follows:

Prince Edward: population fully vaccinated: 40.7%, population with booster shot: 3.9%

Buckingham: population fully vaccinated: 48%, population with booster shot: 3.5%

Cumberland: population fully vaccinated: 43.9%, population with booster shot: 2.7%

Charlotte: population fully vaccinated: 47%, population with booster shot: 4.1%

Lunenburg: population fully vaccinated: 47.8%, population with booster shot: 2.3%

When discussing vaccinations, Almond referenced the latest big news surrounding COVID-19 mitigation.

Friday, Oct. 29, the FDA authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 after indicating the benefits of vaccination in this age group outweighed the possible risks, based on available data.

The vaccine advisory committee to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) was expected to meet Tuesday, Nov. 2, to further consider guidelines for vaccine administration to children in the 5-11 age group.

The Piedmont Health District is now offering booster shots for all three COVID-19 vaccines.

Booster shots will be available at several upcoming clinics, including Southside Virginia Community College Nov. 3 from 2 – 6 p.m., the Victoria Railroad Park on Nov. 4 from 8 a.m. – noon, the Prince Edward Farmville Youth Association on Nov. 10 from 2 – 6 p.m. and the Buckingham Community Center on Nov. 15 from 2 – 6 p.m.

Registration is encouraged, but walk-ins are also welcome. Register in advance at vase.vdh.virginia.gov/. If coming in for a booster dose, be sure to bring your vaccine card.