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South Florida Preps For Pfizer COVID Vaccine Age Change And Discussion Of Miami Heat — On And Off The Court

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CARL JUSTE CJUSTE@MIAMIHERALD.COM
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The Miami Herald
Pfizer vaccinations are sorted to be administered to university students in Miami-Dade on April 15, 2021 at Jackson through a COVID-19 vaccination initiative with Barry University, Florida International University, Florida Memorial University, Miami Dade College and University of Miami.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in children 12 to 15 years old. That means more kids are now eligible to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

According to state data, there have been nearly 200,000 reported COVID-19 cases in children zero months to 14 years old. The age expansion for the Pfizer vaccine comes as demand in the state for vaccines is dropping and many vaccine providers are ramping down their efforts.

WLRN is here for you, even when life is unpredictable. Local journalists are working hard to keep you informed on the latest developments across South Florida. Please support this vital work. Become a WLRN member today. Thank you.

The South Florida Roundup spoke with a pediatric infectious disease specialist and WLRN’s health care reporter about what happens next. Also on this program, we spoke about why the actions of the Tamarac city commission have caused public outcry — after the South Florida Sun Sentinel shed light on the commission's spending habits.

We also discussed Miami Dade County’s very first chief heat officer before talking about the Miami Heat’s upcoming playoff appearance.

Here is a quick breakdown of the show.

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Milestone

The FDA has determined that the benefits of the Pfizer vaccine in individuals 12 years of age and older outweigh potential risks. Dr. Brandon Chatani, pediatric infectious disease specialist from UHealth Jackson Health System, discussed efficacy, clinical trials, and reassured parents and guardians who are on the fence about the vaccine.

"There are three side effects that have been identified, even for this age group, and that includes arm pain," Chatani said. "So pain in whichever arm that the vaccine is put into, some headache and some fatigue. Those typically last one to two days and then resolve."

Veronica Zaragovia has been on the ground covering communities throughout the pandemic and the vaccine rollout, as WLRN's health care reporter. On Thursday, she spoke with 12-year-old Lauren Kirby Navarro of Miami about taking the Pfizer vaccine. Zaragovia also spoke to Lauren's father, Laurence Kirby Navarro.

“It felt nice because sometimes when you go out ... you just want to be vaccinated so you’ll be fine and feel good,” Lauren Kirby Navarro said.

The enthusiasm was shared by Lauren’s father.

Laurence Kirby Navvaro said when he got vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, he didn't feel any side effects.

”I wanted to make sure that she could get the same one I got Pfizer. If it hadn't been Pfizer, I would have hesitated but being that it is Pfizer — 100 percent all in,” Laurence Kirby Navvaro said.

Many parents and guardians have expressed a desire to vaccinate their child, Zaragovia said.

"One of the really nice things about this job is being able to also connect with people through social media. So parents will reach out as well on Twitter asking, you know, if I know where vaccines are available or when the next group is going to become eligible," Zaragovia said.

Excessive Perks And Benefits In Tamarac?

An investigation by the Sun Sentinel revealed Tamarac city commissioners had been granting themselves a lucrative amount of benefits — and were about to consider even more. In response, at the taxpayers' expense, officials considered spending $50,000 to hire a legal team to investigate who shared the public memo about the spending.

That led to even more public backlash, as some community members said hiring a third party to investigate who “leaked” documents that are public record was a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Commissioner Mike Gelin represents the city’s second district spoke about the situation at a commission meeting this week.

“The goal was not to 'find the whistleblower' or find this person who gave information to be public. We want information to be public," said Gelin. "This is a public entity, everything is public. the question is, and we still have yet to hear the answer from the city manager, is who gave the approval to put these items on the agenda?”

Juan Ortega is the assistant news editor for the Sun Sentinel and he has been working with the reporter, Lisa J. Huriash, who broke the story.

"They gave themselves a new $50,000 pot of money for local travel, and that had been on top of another pot of $55,000 that they share for out of town conferences and conventions," Ortega said. "Well, moving forward, there's still a lot to unspool."

Ortega said a watchdog agency is looking to what transpired in recent months.

Miami-Dade's First Chief Heat Officer

Have you noticed that those hot sticky days in South Florida seem to be happening more often? It’s not in your head.

Historically, Florida would experience a heat index over 100 degrees Fahrenheit about 25 days a year. A 2019 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists predicts that by 2050, Florida will have 105 days with a heat index over 100 degrees.

In order to prepare for that future, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the county’s first-ever chief heat officer, Jane Gilbert.

Gilbert broke down her goals for the new position and how her plans will help mitigate the social, environmental, and economic impact that extreme heat has on the daily lives in the county and surrounding areas.

Climate change in Florida is making extreme heat worse for nearly everyone: the elderly, outdoor workers, pregnant women, children and low-income communities are disproportionately affected by it.

"It becomes a cost for first, an economic burden, to be able to keep your home at a comfortable level," Gilbert said. "And if you're not able to afford that, then you're compromising your health."

The Miami Heat Is Headed To The Playoffs

The defending Eastern Conference champions, the Miami Heat, has been able to find success so far despite several injuries and COVID-19 diagnoses this season. The Heat’s playoff-clinching win over the Celtics earlier this week was followed up by a dominating win over the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night.

Miami Herald sports reporter Anthony Chiang broke down some of his short and long-term takeaways from the Heat's recent play and what he expects from their appearance in the postseason.

He also talked about veteran Heat player Udonis Haslem's notable showing in the Heat's final home game of the regular season. The Heat’s all-time leading rebounder made his first appearance of the season — it’s his 18th NBA season. And for many it was the "highlight of the season."

"He only played three minutes, but they were legendary three minutes. He got in there, took a charge, made his trademark baseline jumper, got ejected after getting into a heated exchange with Dwight Howard," Chiang said.

"So, as as Udonis said, if that was his final game, he went out in true Udonis fashion by getting ejected. So it was it was a really fun night last night, not only because he played well, but also just everything surrounding Udonis — this season debut, the fans. You could tell he loved every second of it."

Wilkine Brutus is a multimedia journalist for WLRN, South Florida's NPR, and a member of Washington Post/Poynter Institute’s 2019 Leadership Academy. A former Digital Reporter for The Palm Beach Post, Brutus produces enterprise stories on topics surrounding people, community innovation, entrepreneurship, art, culture, and current affairs.