Health officials discuss Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine expansion in Jackson

JACKSON, Tenn. — A game changer in the fight against COVID-19 might be arriving, and it could be as soon as Wednesday night.

Local health officials are encouraged by the low number of cases in Madison County. Recently, cases have steadily averaged fewer than 10 per day.

“On average, we’re seeing less than 10 new cases a day, which is good, which is manageable, which is where we’ve been for the past few weeks,” said Mallory Cooke, with the Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department.

“What we’re seeing is definitely a decline in the number of hospitalized COVID patients, and I have to credit the vaccine for that,” said Amy Garner, Chief Compliance and Communications Officer for West Tennessee Healthcare.

And now there is a new twist to the fight.

The Food and Drug Administration announced the Pfizer vaccine is safe for 12 to 15-years-old.

Wednesday afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met and endorsed the measure.

“This is a game changer,” Cooke said. “Twelve and older, that hits another large portion of the population,” Cooke said.

In fact, Cooke says the health department will begin distributing the Pfizer vaccine to those 12 years and older on Thursday.

“As soon as ACIP approves that, we will be giving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to individuals age 12 and older. As long as the parent is here to vouch for them, then that’s what we will do. The parent will sign the permission form, fill out the information,” Cooke said.

That’s good news for vaccine progress in Madison County, which currently stands at around 45% with at least one dose and 38% fully vaccinated.

At the hospital, Garner says while the COVID-19 situation has improved, the hospital itself is almost full.

“We started the census here at Jackson this morning, with over 600 patients. We’re only licensed for 642 beds,” Garner said.

According to clinical team members in the hospital, there’s no one illness causing it.

“Possibly patients have put off preventive care visits, or surgical cases, or put off going to the doctor due to COVID,” Garner said.

So remember, if you’ve put off a doctor’s appointment, it might be time to go back and make sure everything is clear.

As a reminder, the health department has Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines available.

So far, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for those 12 through 15-years-old.

Categories: COVID-19 Updates, Local News, News
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