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St. Louis-area school districts make plans to give COVID vaccine to 5-11-year-olds



St. Louis-area school districts make plans to give COVID vaccine to 5-11-year-olds

ELLISVILLE, Mo. – The Centers for Disease Control is expanding the use of COVID vaccines to millions of children. An independent advisory panel on Tuesday approved Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5 through 11.

About 15 million doses are already being packed and shipped to vaccination sites across the country. The White House said the vaccination program is expected to be fully operational next Monday.

With the green light coming from the CDC panel, the shots could begin being administered right away. Younger children would receive one-third of the dose authorized for Americans 12 and older. The shots would be delivered by smaller needles.

St. Louis-area school districts are already preparing to administer that dose for younger kids. They have scheduled clinics at the schools.

The Rockwood School District has tentatively scheduled two clinics at Crestview Middle School on Nov. 13 and Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on both days. The vaccine will be given voluntarily but children under age 18 must have parental consent.

“The goal here is to get as many people vaccinated as we can and we’re encouraging that so that we can keep kids healthy and our staff healthy, and eventually move toward reducing mitigation measures like perhaps masks becoming optional with numbers decreasing in the area and more people getting vaccinated,” said Amy Wehr, an RN and supervisor for Rockwood School District’s Wellness and Health Services.

Other districts in the area are making tentative plans for vaccine clinics for the younger kids. About 28 million children ages 5 to 11 nationwide are eligible to receive the Pfizer pediatric dose of the COVID vaccine.

We should be hearing from more districts and area health care systems this week about setting up vaccination clinics for the younger kids.


State badminton: Johnson wins seventh straight team title, this time in dramatic fashion



State badminton: Johnson wins seventh straight team title, this time in dramatic fashion

It was the closest match Mark Fischbach has been a part of as Johnson’s badminton coach.

“And it was incredible,” he said.

Wednesday’s state title match came down to the wire. After the first sets, Washington led four of the seven matches in its bid to end the Governors’ run of consecutive state titles. But Johnson roared back and claimed three of the first four final results.

It just needed one more match out of the final three to claim another state crown.

“To have three sets going on at the same time to decide the match, we kind of brought the team together and talked about how the pressure is not on one person, but you want to be the reason for the team,” Fischbach said.

The win came from what may have looked like an unlikely source.

Alexis Xiong and Lena Nguyen rallied from a first-set defeat to win at No. 3 doubles, giving Johnson a 4-3 victory over Washington at Eden Prairie High School to win the Governors their seventh straight state title, 11th in the past 12 years and 12th overall in program history.

It was surprising, perhaps, considering the duo featured one player who hadn’t played badminton prior to this season and another who was just elevated to varsity last week.

“To step up and just be able to play at a high level and decide the match was really something special,” Fischbach said.

That was the story of Johnson’s season. A rash of injuries and illnesses meant players had to step up.

It reached a point where Johnson’s coaching staff considered jumbling its lineups to find different combinations. Instead, the Governors elected to keep elevating players who’d put in the work to earn their opportunities. The move paid off. Another title is Johnson’s.

That was likely much to the chagrin of everyone else in attendance. Johnson is Goliath, and everyone else is always waiting for it to fall. Not this year.

Fischbach credited the alumni activity with helping Johnson stay on top. Six Johnson alums — one assistant and five volunteers — were on hand Wednesday to help coach and keep the streak alive.

“The young girls take pride in the tradition and they see the older girls and how much it means to them, too,” he said. “We talk about how everyone is rooting against us, so we’ve got to be with each other. The whole gym is cheering when the other girl gets a point, and we just have our 10 teammates and the alumni — it’s a little different. … It’s our team, that’s what we focus on. We try to block out the noise and just focus on what we accomplish. We work hard and we earn it.”

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Chris Paddack undergoes Tommy John surgery — for the second time



Chris Paddack undergoes Tommy John surgery — for the second time

OAKLAND, Calif. — If it came to it, Chris Paddack was resolute in his decision.

If he needed Tommy John surgery on his bothersome right elbow, if he needed to go through that whole process for a second time — a physical and mental grind, by all accounts — he wouldn’t try to rehab or go another route first.

He would get the surgery.

On Wednesday, he did.

Paddack, who underwent Tommy John surgery for the first time in 2016 as a prospect, had the surgery again to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow. It was  performed by Dr. Keith Meister on Wednesday in Dallas. His timetable for a return puts him into next season.

“We need the best possible version of him, and the best possible version of Chris Paddack is to get himself healthy and to have this procedure and rehab himself and get back to full strength,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s an ultra-talented young guy with a great work ethic, and I think he has an incredibly bright future with us. But the only way to get there is for him to take care of business right now and get this done.”

Paddack, whom the Twins acquired the day before Opening Day with Emilio Pagán for Taylor Rogers, left the Twins’ May 8 game when his elbow started bothering him.

Imaging and consultations with doctors revealed the need for a second Tommy John surgery.

Paddack suffered a slight UCL sprain near the end of last season and received a stem cell injection in his right elbow to help heal the issue. He then built back up during the offseason and Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said when they acquired Paddack they had reviewed his medical reports and felt “really good,” about where he was at.

“It’s just one of those injuries that unfortunately, you look around, most guys have a scar on their elbow or shoulder, especially pitchers,” Paddack said last week. “It’s just part of the part of the business, part of the game now. Guys are throwing 96 to 100 mph. Bodies aren’t supposed to do that. But you look at the flip side, … guys are coming back stronger, healthier, better than they’ve ever felt in their career.”

Paddack started five games this season for the Twins, posting a 4.03 earned-run average and striking out 20 in his 22 1/3 innings.

Now, he’ll begin an arduous rehab process that he is all too familiar with.

“It’s never easy going through these things. But you keep your head up, and you stay positive, and you go to work every day,” Baldelli said. “His job right now is to get himself rehabbed right. And it gets maybe a little long and a little monotonous at times, but he’ll get where he needs to be.”

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With Lucas Giolito back and Lance Lynn perhaps 3 weeks away, the Chicago White Sox could have 7 starters: ‘We hope we have that problem’



With Lucas Giolito back and Lance Lynn perhaps 3 weeks away, the Chicago White Sox could have 7 starters: ‘We hope we have that problem’

The Chicago White Sox are a step closer to having a healthy rotation with Lucas Giolito’s return to the mound Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals.

Giolito had been out since Friday, when the Sox placed him on the COVID-19-related injured list. His reinstatement was one of three roster moves the team announced.

The Sox optioned Davis Martin to Triple-A Charlotte after the right-hander allowed one run and struck out seven in five innings in his impressive major-league debut in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. They also transferred starter Lance Lynn to the 60-day IL.

Lynn is eligible to be reinstated June 6. If everyone is healthy then, the Sox could have seven starters to choose from.

“We’ll figure that out when that time comes,” pitching coach Ethan Katz said Tuesday. “If you look at a lot of teams, for example last year the (Los Angeles) Dodgers had 10 starting pitchers at the start of the season and they finished in the playoffs with like three.

“Having starting depth is really important. You can never have enough and how it shakes out at the end of the day, we’ll see how it goes. But right now it’s nice to have the options we have, and hopefully it becomes a very tough decision. We will not have a seven-man rotation, but hopefully we have some tough decisions to make.”

Manager Tony La Russa agreed: “We hope we have that problem.”

Katz discussed the state of the staff before Dylan Cease allowed seven hits and struck out nine in 5⅔ scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory in Game 1 of the doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium.

Cease improved to 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA and a major-league-leading 67 strikeouts.

“He’s definitely taking some big steps,” Katz said. “And what’s exciting is there’s still more steps to be had. That’s kind of expected. He’s still a young pitcher.

“He had a great year last year, he’s off to a great start right now, but there’s still things we’re trying to refine, trying to get consistent. But he’s growing every day, his confidence is growing every day, which is ultimately the biggest thing.”

Sox starters entered Wednesday’s game with a 3.41 ERA, which ranked fifth in the American League. Michael Kopech’s 1.54 ERA stands out. The right-hander has made a smooth transition back to the rotation after spending most of last year as a reliever. He has 33 strikeouts in 35 innings.

Kopech is on the paternity leave list but is scheduled to start Saturday in New York against the Yankees.

“When you go from relieving to starting, it’s something you’re always paying attention to and want to make sure that you’re not taxing him too hard,” Katz said. “We’ve been very cognizant of all his pitch counts so far, his ups, and we’re going to continue to do that.”

Katz has built a connection with Vince Velasquez, who pointed to the coach as a factor when signing with the Sox in March. Velasquez is 2-3 with a 5.53 ERA in six starts. He allowed one run in 10⅔ innings in wins against the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox before giving up seven runs in five innings in his last start Friday against the Yankees.

Velasquez starts Thursday’s series finale in Kansas City.

“His outings, every day, every time we get to see him work, we talk about some new things,” Katz said. “The challenge we have is we didn’t get a full spring training, we didn’t get an offseason to communicate and do all that. So it’s finding spots to talk, address, watch him throw. Him hearing me talk a little bit more about things and me seeing him work and just adding to everything.

“It just takes time. I’m looking forward to (Thursday’s) outing after the last one, kind of building off that. The previous two were really good.”

Dallas Keuchel followed up a solid outing against the Red Sox (two runs in six innings on May 8) with another against the Yankees (five shutout innings Saturday). He’ll start Friday’s series opener in New York.

“He came into the spring and him being able to recapture the movement on his pitches, there was some stuff delivery-wise that he battled a little bit last year,” Katz said. “He’s done a nice job this year of repeating that, and when he does that, we know that his stuff moves the way he wants to, the ball gets to where he wants to, which enhances weak contact and mishit balls.

“He’s just starting to get some momentum and it’s really nice to see the stuff we saw in spring all come together.”

The Sox added another veteran to the mix Monday when Johnny Cueto made his Sox debut with two hits allowed in six shutout innings.

“He was great,” Katz said. “The tempo is there, he attacks the strike zone, he’s going to shimmy, get hitters off balance. It was a lot of fun for the team to be able to see that. He keeps the defense ready to go because of how fast he’s working.

“He’s a lot of fun to watch and he’s going to bring a lot of joy to this team.”


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