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Med Center Health offering COVID vaccine for ages 5-11

The Medical Center at Bowling Green’s Urgent Care Clinic began administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Friday to children ages 5-11.

The move comes after The Associated Press reported kid-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine cleared two final hurdles Tuesday – a recommendation from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisers, followed by a green light from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

Med Center Health internal medicine and pediatric physician Dr. Helen Carter told the Daily News the vaccine would also be available to the new age group at Med Center Health Primary Care Bowling Green by appointment beginning Monday.

Carter said the vaccine for young children is a third of the size of the regular Pfizer dose, and the appropriate needle size would be used for kids.

“Children ages 5-11 make up about 39% of the COVID cases in individuals younger than 18 years old,” she said. “Helping get them vaccinated will help prevent the spread of COVID. Getting the vaccine early on before the holidays is important because you don’t have to worry about children spreading it to older members of the family.”

Like for older age groups, the vaccine is a two-dose series for children 5-11 with the second dose 21 days after the first.

Carter said the vaccine was 91% effective for preventing COVID-19 in children, and mild symptoms like arm soreness or fever would go away within 48 hours of receiving the shot.

She also reassured the vaccines were safe for the new age group.

“There have been clinical trials that have been going on to make sure the vaccine is safe for kids,” Carter said. “None of those kids had any serious side effects to the vaccine. Vaccines in general are very safe. They are fully recommended by the CDC and the FDA.

“The risk is low for issues in children who have COVID, but it isn’t zero. There are hardly any side effects to the vaccine compared to getting COVID. I think it’s also important to point out that a lot of children in this age group might have younger siblings who aren’t yet eligible for it. This helps protect them as well.”

She said health care providers at both sites would strive to make children comfortable before and after receiving the vaccine, similar to other pediatric shot situations.

The vaccine is available at Urgentcare seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Parents can text COVID to 270-796-4400 to make an appointment for their child.

Minors under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The Associated Press said Walgreens planned to start kids’ vaccinations nationally on Saturday and parents could sign up online or by calling 1-800-Walgreens. CVS was also accepting appointments online and by phone at select pharmacies starting Sunday.

T.J. Regional Health Executive Vice President of Marketing Stacey Biggs said Thursday the Glasgow hospital is putting plans in place to offer the Pfizer vaccine for pediatric patients next week and will announce those plans soon.

The latest update from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services on Friday showed two counties in the Barren River region are still marked red for having a “critical” COVID incidence rate: Barren and Metcalfe.

Of the 10 counties in the Barren River region, only two have a vaccination rate of at least 50%: Simpson and Logan.

Veterans Parade returns following year off due to COVID

For Marvin Dugger, the city’s 2021 Veterans Day Parade was a chance to relive old times in more ways than one.

Dugger, of Bowling Green, served in the U.S. Army, stationed in West Germany from 1981-83 where he patrolled the border with Czechoslovakia and East Germany in the days before German reunification.

On Saturday, Dugger occupied a spot on State Street to watch the procession alongside three Army buddies his wife, Chrissy Dugger, managed to bring together for a surprise reunion.

Dugger’s unit mates – Edwin McKenzie, William Simmons and Greg Taylor – came here Wednesday from Illinois, New York and Ohio, respectively.

Wearing specially made olive drab T-shirts commemorating their reunion, the four have fallen back into an easy camaraderie that can make one forget that they haven’t been around one another in nearly 40 years.

Friday night was spent at Dugger’s home, grilling out and swapping stories over beers, but they were not going to miss Saturday’s parade.

“I’m here for the veterans, to honor the men and women that sacrificed and gave their lives for our country,” said Dugger, who was an Army sergeant. “We all four served together and that’s very important to me.”

Organized by the city, the parade to celebrate the community’s veterans returned after the COVID-19 pandemic postponed last year’s event.

A cool, sunny morning greeted the hundreds of attendees who lined College and State streets to watch the marchers.

Alesia Chaffin of Richardsville was attending her first parade, bringing a chair to secure a spot on College Street near Main Avenue more than hour before the parade began.

Chaffin said she had a granddaughter in the JROTC program at Warren East High School marching Saturday, and several other relatives are veterans, including a brother who served in the Vietnam War.

Chaffin came to the parade with her friend, Cathy Glenn, an Army veteran who also had a granddaughter taking part in the parade.

“It’s nice to see what this is all about,” Chaffin said. “We’ve got a lot of history here.”

Among the people in the parade was Ethan Cromer, a sixth grade student at Briarwood Elementary School who won his way into the procession.

Cromer and Katie Yarborough, a fifth grader at McNeill Elementary School, won a student essay contest in which they wrote about what the Pledge of Allegiance means to them.

“I wrote about freedom, respect and honor and why the pledge means those things to me,” Ethan said, adding that he was a “little nervous” when he learned he had submitted a winning entry. “I’ve never done something like this before, but I did my best and tried my hardest.”

The two contest winners read their essays aloud at the flag-raising ceremony held after the parade outside the Warren County Courthouse.

That ceremony also featured a recognition of parade grand marshal Lt. Col. Joe McFarland, a retired Army veteran who enlisted in 1950 and served in the Korean and Vietnam wars, receiving two Bronze Stars.

McFarland was presented with a Quilt of Valor by the Creative Quilters of Southern Kentucky, who contacted the Bowling Green-Warren County Veterans and Military Support Council about honoring a veteran with a quilt.

Council Chairman Don Butler nominated McFarland to receive the handmade Quilt of Valor, a concept originated by Catherine Roberts, the mother of an Iraq War veteran.

According to the Quilts of Valor Foundation website, Roberts had a dream about a young man brought into despair by war whose demeanor and well-being changed when he was wrapped in a quilt.

Forged by fire: Indian Hills opens new clubhouse

David Elliott on Thursday likened the new clubhouse at Indian Hills Country Club to a mulligan, a golfing term for a “do-over” after a drive gone awry.

Judging from the response Thursday when the new structure was unveiled, Elliott and his fellow Indian Hills members aren’t going to need any more do-overs.

Twenty-three months in the making after a fire destroyed the original Indian Hills clubhouse, the new 15,250-square-foot clubhouse that cost $5.5 million to build and equip is more fairway splitter than rough-landing shank.

And that’s largely because Elliott, president of the Builders by Design construction firm that built the new edifice, sought the advice of the club’s 400 members shortly after the smoke had cleared from that December 2019 fire.

After an insurance settlement and bank financing “gave us confidence to move forward,” Elliott and other Indian Hills leaders sought the member input that led to Thursday’s grand opening.

“We surveyed our members to see what they liked about the old clubhouse and what they wanted to do differently,” Elliott said. “We wanted to organize the space more prudently. This building is 15% smaller than the original building, but most people walking through won’t believe that.”

Many won’t recognize it either, if they’re recalling the previous clubhouse.

Designed by the Williams Associates architectural firm to meet the wishes of those surveyed members, this clubhouse is geared more toward fitness and dining than toward the big wedding receptions and other events traditionally held at country clubs.

“Traditionally, country clubs have been designed to have those big 300-person gatherings,” said Ken Crowder, Indian Hills general manager for the past eight months. “This one was designed with the members in mind. It’s a cozier atmosphere. Our members get to use this building every day.”

That was evident Thursday as Crowder showed off the dining and lounge areas that are equipped with eight big-screen televisions and an 1,100-square-foot exercise room where members can work up a sweat on Peloton bikes, free weights and other brand-new equipment.

“That (exercise equipment) has become more the type of thing that’s expected at country clubs these days,” said Crowder, who came to Bowling Green after more than three decades in country club administration in Virginia. “More people are concerned about fitness and health.”

Even with the new amenities, the clubhouse was completed ahead of schedule. When ground was broken in September 2020 to start construction, Elliott said the goal was to have the building open by the second anniversary of the fire.

“We finished about a month early,” Crowder said. “That’s a testament to Builders by Design. In a time when you’re dealing with supply chain issues, that’s amazing.”

Indian Hills Board of Directors Chairman Michael Johnson said the new clubhouse puts to rest for good the dark days of the fire and its aftermath.

“We were operating out of about one-third of the cart barn for a while,” he said. “This building can take Indian Hills to places we’ve never been.

“It has been 23 months since the fire, and now I feel like our future is looking bright.”

BGISD to consider going mask optional

Bowling Green Independent School District leaders will weigh going mask optional during a school board meeting Monday evening where Superintendent Gary Fields is expected to recommend that route, effective Tuesday.

“Superintendent Gary Fields will recommend to the Board of Education that face masks become optional inside school buildings beginning Tuesday, Nov. 9,” the school district announced Friday. “The district will continue to contact trace following all positive cases, and require all symptomatic individuals to quarantine. COVID-19 testing is available all school days, on-site in all Bowling Green schools.”

The news follows a similar move from Warren County Public Schools, which pivoted to a mask optional policy in its school facilities on Nov. 1.

School district leaders have cited waning local coronavirus incidence rates in recent weeks and increased hospital capacity as a rationale. And with recent federal authorization, COVID-19 vaccines are expected to begin rolling out to 5- to 11-year-olds in coming weeks.

Still, Gov. Andy Beshear has warned school districts against being too hasty in lifting their universal masking requirements.

“The first thing that would pop these numbers back up is if we came off universal masking in schools,” Beshear told reporters at a news conference last month.

For its part, BGISD cited the following reasons for going mask optional:

  • The Warren County COVID-19 incidence rate has been under 25 cases per 100K population since Oct. 23 and is currently 17.2.
  • Local hospitalizations have significantly declined, as have cases and contacts among BGISD students and staff.
  • More than 75% of BGISD faculty and staff are fully vaccinated, with several also receiving boosters.
  • According to Kycovid19.ky.gov, 34% of children ages 12-15, and 41% of 16- and 17-year-olds have received the vaccine.
  • As of this week, vaccines are available for children ages 5-11.

Friday’s announcement by BGISD is in line with previous comments Fields made about the district’s masking policy, telling its school board last month that:

“We said that we would revisit this each month,” Fields told the board, referring to the district’s universal masking policy. “My recommendation to you is … that we continue to mask as we go forward for the next few weeks, and then on Nov. 8, if we continue to see data that continue in this positive direction, then at that point I feel like we could be ready to go to a mask-optional approach.”

BGISD said Friday it will continue to track daily cases and contacts on its district website.

“The Board of Education will also continue to track and review data to make decisions regarding the health and safety of students and employees,” the district said.