MEDIA RELEASE: Ottawa County Department of Public Health Announces Distribution of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11, Rescission of Mask Order on January 2, 2022

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MEDIA RELEASE  I  November 3, 2021

Media Contact:

Alison Clark, Communications Specialist | 616-494-5597

Ottawa County Department of Public Health Announces Distribution of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11

Face Masks in Educational Settings Order will be rescinded on January 2, 2022

(HOLLAND, MI.) – The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) is announcing today that it will begin distribution of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 – 11 on Saturday, November 6. The vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the FDA on October 29, 2021 and on November 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its recommendation to make the vaccine available for use in children ages 5-11.

Parents can obtain a vaccine for their children, free of charge, at clinics around the County. OCDPH staff trained in providing vaccines to children will be on hand to administer the two-dose vaccine series. Appointments are required and children must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

“As with other routine vaccinations for children, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has undergone a thorough testing and review process to ensure it is safe and effective for children. We understand that parents still may have questions, and we respect the rights of parents to choose what medical measures are right for their child,” said Lisa Stefanovsky, Health Officer. “We encourage parents talking to their healthcare provider with specific questions. OCDPH believes being vaccinated, in addition to the other layers of protection, is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection, severe illness and hospitalization for children and our community. The vaccine will help keep children safely in school and extra-curricular activities and is a big step toward a more normal school year.”

Rescission of August 20 Face Masks in Educational Settings Order

Importantly, Ottawa County’s August 20 Order requiring the wearing of face masks in educational settings for pre-K through sixth grade will be rescinded at 5:00 pm on Sunday, January 2, 2022, 60 days after the vaccine is available to children. Children will have the highest level of protection against the virus before the mask mandate is rescinded if they receive their first dose of the vaccine before November 29. Doing so will allow children to receive their second dose three weeks later, with enough time to be considered fully vaccinated when the Order expires, and children return to school.

OCDPH, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the CDC continue to recommend universal indoor masking in K-12 schools, along with other layered disease prevention strategies, such as physical distancing, frequent handwashing, staying home when sick, COVID-19 testing, and isolation and quarantine, when necessary. The lifting of the public health order does not limit individual Ottawa County school districts from maintaining or instituting their own mask requirements.

As of November 2, more than 5.5 million COVID-19 cases in children have been reported in the United States.[1] Although children are at lower risk of severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19, they are still at risk of contracting and spreading the virus. In Ottawa County, more than 6,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19 since March of 2020, and nationally, 793 children have died because of the virus, 172 of these among ages 5 to 111. At this time, Ottawa County cases, hospitalizations and outbreaks continue to increase among school age children. During clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was shown to be 91% effective at preventing symptomatic disease from COVID-19[2].

 “As a family doctor, I would eagerly recommend this vaccine for my patients, as well as for the children in my own family,” said Gwen Unzicker, MD, Medical Director. “Nothing is without risks, but based on the information we have, the risks of COVID-19 infection in this age group are far greater than the potential risks of side effects from the vaccine, and the vaccine’s role in preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, and is something that will benefit children, their families and our whole community.”

Clinic availability and scheduling can be found by visiting or

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health works with our community to help assure conditions that promote and protect health. OCDPH’s vision is healthy people. For more information, contact, (616) 396-5266 or visit Follow us on Facebook @miOttawaHealth or twitter @miOCDPH.

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[1] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

[2] US Food & Drug Administration, FDA News Release October 29, 2021, FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use in Children 5 through 11 Years of Age