NWA Council to host vaccine clinic for kids ages 5-11

J.B. Hunt Headquarters in Lowell / Courtesy, J.B. Hunt

Here’s another opportunity to get a COVID-19 vaccine for your 5- to 11-year-old. We’ve added this one to our list from yesterday.

The NWA Council today announced plans to host a children’s mass vaccination clinic on Friday, Nov. 5 at J.B. Hunt in Lowell.

“The Northwest Arkansas Council is working closely with state officials to lead the efforts for the pediatric vaccine roll out here in Northwest Arkansas,” said Ryan Cork, executive director of the Council’s Health Care Transformation Division. “We have doses available for this newly approved pediatric population and plan to continue to host pop-up vaccination events in partnership with pediatric clinics in Benton and Washington counties in order to support the roll out.”

Registration for the clinic this weekend is encouraged, but not required.

In addition, another clinic is in the works for 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at NWA National Airport.

NWA Council officials say going forward, pop-up clinics with opportunities for anyone 5 or older to be vaccinated will be scheduled weekly in both Benton and Washington County. Info on those will be available at nwacouncil.org/vaccine-calendar.

The vaccinations are free, insurance is not required?and those attending the clinics will not need to provide an identification or social security number to get vaccinated.

Officials said those who have previously had a COVID-19 vaccine should bring their CDC vaccination card.

Council officials also conducted a Q/A with Doctor Robert Williams, CMO at Arkansas Children’s Northwest to help answer some of parents’ questions about the vaccine, and that Q&A is below.

For more info on the upcoming clinics, call 479-334-2929.

Q&A with Dr. Robert Williams, chief medical officer, Arkansas Children’s Northwest /

Q&A Provided by NWA Council

Q: What children (ages 5-11) do you recommend receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Dr. Williams: “The majority of patients, even medically complex children, should consult with their doctor to consider getting it. Even if they’re not a high-risk patient themselves, they may be living with someone who is higher risk, or they may be exposed to someone at school who is higher risk. The way we protect our communities and ourselves individually is to get vaccinated.”

Q: Why is it important for this age group to get vaccinated?
Dr. Williams: “As a collective, they represent a large pool that could be a reservoir for holding the disease in the population. If we can get enough people vaccinated, then there’s very few places for this virus to live – that is what herd immunity is all about. Getting all the adults vaccinated is helpful, yes, but if there’s a bunch of children around that can still carry the disease, perhaps even asymptomatically, they can still spread it to others. So, it is important to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Q: Are there any side effects that parents should be concerned about in regard to the vaccination?
Dr. Williams: “As with most vaccines, the child’s immune response could include symptoms such as fever, tiredness, or soreness at the injection site. These typically only last for about a day. I think the pros far outweigh any cons, and those cons could easily be answered by your pediatrician.”

Q: If children don’t frequently experience severe illness with COVID-19, why do they need a COVID-19 vaccine?
Dr. Williams: “While death or significant injury is unlikely with this illness in a healthy child, not all children are healthy, and it’s still possible to have a bad outcome from COVID even in a healthy person or child.

I think this is one of those situations where we have a lifeline we can offer people in the COVID-19 vaccine. It seems foolish to not take advantage of that opportunity. It is too late to take the vaccine once you already have the disease and are now sick with it.

The vaccine is a margin of safety. It’s like wearing a life jacket or a helmet. Maybe you’ll never need it, but it is an opportunity to offer some margin of safety for your child. That is what the vaccine can offer, even in a healthy child.”

Q: How does the COVID-19 vaccine compare to other vaccines you recommend to parents for their children?
Dr. Williams: “There’s a lot more scrutiny applied to this vaccine than any other vaccine that I’ve had in my practice lifetime. I want to put this vaccine in the context of all the other vaccines we have that people take for granted. Hemophilus and pneumococcus, these are diseases that caused significant mortality in children before we had vaccines for them. There are others that caused serious illness – many of those are mostly absent from the U.S. population now, and that’s all thanks to vaccination.

We accept risks with every other drug we take. Tylenol, Advil – all those things have side effects, and we take those without thinking about it. A healthy degree of skepticism is reasonable. That’s how you can start a dialogue with your pediatrician about getting your children vaccinated. Ask your doctor to tell you why you need to get vaccinated and why it’s safe. Your doctor should be prepared to answer those questions.”