Registered nurse Elaine Crabb will draw a dose of COVID-19 vaccine Monday at a special vaccination site Bashas has set up for her employees. It came as state officials announced they will open vaccine appointment registration to people as young as 16. (File photo by Travis Robertson/Cronkite News)
PHOENIX – Pediatricians throughout the valley offer Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine appointment scheduling for ages 5 to 11. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to approve the vaccine, which is currently available to those 12 or older, as early as next week.
The state is expected to receive 224,700 pediatric doses with “many more doses arriving soon after the CDC makes its recommendation,” according to a statement from Don Herrington, interim director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.
“The goal is simple: Children are already benefiting from all kinds of safe and effective vaccines, and adding COVID-19 vaccination to the mix will help keep children, their families, their friends and their communities safe,” Herrington said.
Studies conducted by Pfizer and BioNTech found that their COVID-19 vaccine was 90.7% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections in children aged 5 to 11 years old, according to the manufacturer. Pfizer and BioNTech tested the vaccine on 2,268 children in this age group, receiving a dose of 10 micrograms — a third of the dose given to 12 years of age or older.
The FDA will consider emergency administration of the vaccine for this age group on Tuesday, with the CDC’s independent advisory committee on Nov. 2 and 3.
Ahead of the expected approval, pediatricians are making vaccination appointments that will begin in November. Parents can find a map from ADHS of pediatricians who offer vaccines to children ages 5 to 11.
Drew Colbourne, the vaccine coordinator for Happy Kids Pediatrics, which has eight locations in metro Phoenix, said there’s no reason the CDC or FDA shouldn’t approve vaccines for this age group.
Happy Kids Pediatrics has its first appointments for November 4. Colbourne said he has already placed an order for vaccines of the pediatric dose which will hopefully be out by then.
“We’ve been vaccinating since the state of Arizona got the COVID vaccine,” he said. “I expect that if that indication drops to the age of 5, we will undergo many more vaccines.”
Colbourne said 14% of Happy Kids patients between the ages of 5 and 18 test positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to his data. He said approval for this vaccine will help contain the spread and that vaccinated children who contract the virus will have a less severe case than someone who has not been vaccinated.
“We want to do the best for the kids and I believe this vaccine is the right thing to do,” he said. “A lot of people go out and worry about the vaccine, and it’s something I really recommend that parents talk to their children’s pediatrician and get their recommendation.”
Happy Kids will administer the vaccinations at the office. If the number of appointments continues to increase, Colbourne said, the group will be looking at a drive-thru option.
Debbie McCune Davis, the executive director of the Arizona Partnership for Immunization, said that as more people have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the number of infections has declined. But this leaves many school-age children who are too young for vaccines vulnerable to the rapidly spreading delta strain of the virus.
“What happens is that the virus locates people who are not protected, and they become vulnerable, so with our children, without a vaccine for them, we have made them vulnerable to the circulating virus,” she said. “It’s really important that families learn about the benefits of this vaccine and make a decision by talking to their pediatrician about what they want to do to protect their own family.”
The partnership is a nonprofit organization that focuses on vaccine education statewide through community activities and engagement. The organization’s website provides resources with science-based vaccine information, including information and updates about the COVID-19 vaccine.
McCune Davis said that children in particular are “virus spreaders” because of the close contact they have with other children and are not as careful when it comes to preventing the spread.
“They forget to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, so I think this is a population where the vaccine will make a really big difference in slowing the spread of this particular virus,” she said. “There is good information, good safety data available for parents to learn more about the vaccine’s safety indications and that’s the review that’s happening at the federal level right now.”
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