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As CDC approves COVID vaccine for grade school age children, Milwaukee health officials urge continued caution

Diverse set of child portrait avatars wearing face masks.
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Late Tuesday, the CDC approved COVID-19 vaccinations for children 5-11 years old. During a media briefing earlier Tuesday, Milwaukee city and county health officials anticipated the approval.

Ben Weston, Milwaukee County’s chief medical policy advisor, said he and every doctor he knows with young kids will be waiting in line to have their children immunized.

“COVID has consistently been one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States for children. Even if your child is lucky enough to not have serious short-term illness from COVID, long-term effects are common, including trouble concentrating, shortness of breath and fatigue,” Weston said.

Greenfield Health Department’s Darren Rausch said his staff is gearing up to vaccinate kids at school, with parental permission.

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Screenshot Taken By Susan Bence
Darren Rausch, bottom right corner, speaking on the daily cases in Milwaukee County of children ages 18 and under during the city county covid meeting on Nov. 2. The CDC had not yet approved the vaccine for 5 to 11 years old, but did so later in the evening.

Kirsten Johnson said the City of Milwaukee Health Department is looking at after-school clinics.

“[After-school clinics will be held] when parents are likely available to be there, but if parents are unavailable, we are planning on a form that can be signed and then sent back to school with their child,” Johnson said.

Despite planning and optimism, Milwaukee County’s chief health policy advisor Ben Weston said schools will need to remain cautious.

“Masks, distancing, ventilation are going to continue to be critical elements for mitigation in schools,” Weston said.

Greenfield’s Darren Rausch predicts schools will need to keep that “layered mitigation approach” in place at least several months longer.

“That may be [until] spring break or [it] might look like the end of the school year for this academic year,” Rausch said.

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