VENICE — Children ages 5-11 are now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine but it’s not yet widely available in the area.

The pediatric dosage, which is one-third the adult version, hadn’t reached the Department of Health-Sarasota as of Thursday, though it’s coming, Public Information Officer Steve Huard said.

In fact, it’s not currently available at any county health department in the region, he said.

Distributions are coming from Pfizer to a variety of providers, including pharmacies and doctors’ offices, though local CVS and Walgreens pharmacies are the only providers shown Friday at Vaccines.gov. Call to check availability.

But with numerous options for pediatric vaccinations expected, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that the state won’t be setting up clinics, as it did for seniors when vaccines were first authorized.

There won’t be a mandate that 5- to 11-year-olds get vaccinated, either, he said.

Nationwide, about 28 million children are eligible, according to a CDC news release. Florida had about 1.6 million children ages 5-11 in 2019, according to FlHealthCharts.com.

Pfizer’s data showed that the pediatric dose was 90.7% effective at preventing infection, with mild side effects — most commonly a sore arm, according to the CDC.

While children are the least vulnerable group for COVID-19, it has the potential to result in hospitalizations, inflammatory syndromes, long-term complications and death, according to the CDC.

Florida doesn’t report COVID-19 data specifically for the 5-11 age group but state statistics show that during the delta surge the number of cases in children under 16 increased from 228,473 the week beginning June 4 to 493,157 last week.

The death toll rose from seven in the 15 months of the pandemic to 29 less than five months later.

By the numbers

Sarasota Memorial Hospital had 20 COVID-19 patients Thursday, in its most recent update. Of them, 13 were virus-free but not yet ready for discharge.

There were six ICU patients but only two still being treated for COVID-19.

There were no deaths reported on Wednesday or Thursday.

Venice Regional Bayfront Health had four COVID patients Friday and reported no deaths.

The Sarasota County School District reported 50 students, but no staff members, in isolation and five staff and 158 students quarantined Friday.

The transmission rate in the county as of Nov. 3 was 1.37%, according to the Department of Health.

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