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Community updates: Thursday, Nov. 4

Kent County starts COVID-19 vaccinations for kids ages 5-11; Blandford Nature Center hosting fall Nature Makers Market this month; and Gov. Whitmer signs bill repealing Michigan's 'tampon tax.'
Turtle sticker by Birds of the Air, vendor at Blandford Nature Center's upcoming Nature Makers Market.

Turtle sticker by Birds of the Air, vendor at Blandford Nature Center's upcoming Nature Makers Market. /Blandford Nature Center

Kent County starts COVID-19 vaccinations for kids ages 5-11

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is now offering COVID-19 vaccination for children ages 5 to 11, after emergency authorization Tuesday by the U.S. CDC.

Appointments for the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine are available at all three KCHD locations, with extended hours on Nov. 9 and 16, the health department said.

Like the adult version of the vaccine, the pediatric version entails two shots of a vaccine, given at least three weeks apart. However, the KCHD notes that the dose is approximately a third of what adults receive. Different packaging will also be used to prevent mix-ups and smaller needles will likely be used.

“We are tremendously excited to be able to provide this next wave of vaccines to younger children,” said Mary Wisinski, KCHD Immunizations Supervisor. “We have seen an increase in the number of children being infected with COVID-19 since this summer.”

This vaccine not only protects them, but it will help slow the transmission of the disease in our community,” she added. “Vaccinating just one child has the potential to save many lives.”

The Pfizer vaccine was found to be 90.7 percent effective in preventing the virus in children 5 to 11, during clinical testing by the U.S. FDA. So far, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in the 5 to 11 age range.

A parent or legal guardian is required to attend vaccination appointments at KCHD clinics for children ages 5 to 11, or send an attestation form with an adult who is at least 18 years old, stating they are legally allowed to sign on behalf of any minor for the vaccine.

For broader distribution of the pediatric vaccine in Michigan and beyond, the CDC plans for this to start the week of Nov. 8.

More information about the vaccine is available in a FAQ video released Wednesday by the KCHD.


Blandford Nature Center hosting fall Nature Makers Market this month

Blandford Nature Center (BNC) is hosting its annual fall Nature Makers Market this month, spotlighting local artists with products inspired by nature or using natural materials.

Happening at BNC on Saturday, Nov. 13 from 9am-3p, this season’s market will feature 16 Grand Rapids area vendors who will be selling textiles, art prints, ceramics, glassworks, jewelry, and more.

A variety of styles and a wide selection of gifts and goods will be available, according to the center—all made with nature in mind.

“We’re so excited to be hosting another Nature Makers Market just in time for the holidays,” BNC Program Manager Ashley Day said. “This time of the year is so important to support local businesses and artists, and we're glad we can be a part of connecting these awesome local vendors to more people in our community.”

Among participating vendors are Birds of the Air Gifts, Ghost Forest Resin Works, Runaway Press, Solstice Handmade, and Wildship Studio. The full list is available on the BNC’s website.

This event has been planned with pandemic safety protocols in mind. To limit building capacities, the Nature Makers Market will take place in multiple buildings around the center’s property. Face covering use will also be required indoors, regardless of vaccination status.


Gov. Whitmer signs bill repealing Michigan's 'tampon tax'

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill Thursday repealing taxes on the sale of menstrual products in Michigan, following its passage in the state’s House and Senate earlier this year.

The bill is part one of a two-part bipartisan package to repeal taxes on such products—including tampons and pads—which have held 6 percent sales and use taxes. Whitmer will sign the second bill on Friday.

According to the governor’s office, repeal of the taxes will save Michigan families between $3,360 and $4,800 over the course of a lifetime. The figure is based on an estimated $7 to $10 per month cost for these products.

“After years of trying to repeal this tax, I am proud that we are bringing people together to put Michiganders first and drive down costs on these essential products,” said Whitmer, a Democrat. “Everyone should be able to take care of their most basic healthcare needs without an unnecessary added financial burden.”

Rep. Bryan Posthumus of Kent County’s 73rd District, a Republican who sponsored one of the bills, echoed Whitmer’s statement.

“This legislation allows us to reduce taxes while improving public health by eliminating an unnecessary tax on very necessary items,” said Posthumus. “In my view, this isn’t a gender issue or a partisan issue, this is about putting money back into the pockets of Michigan families—and we did that here.”

Whitmer’s office also noted that the average menstruating Michigander has 456 periods—totaling 6.25 years—and uses 17,000 tampons or pads.

More details about the state’s repeal on taxes for menstrual products are available on the State of Michigan’s website.


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