Triad health departments could receive hundreds of pediatric vaccines as soon as next week

(WGHP) — If pediatric vaccines are approved for children ages 5-11, Triad’s health departments will receive hundreds of doses by the end of next week.

In total, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services expects 411,000 doses, which will allow them to vaccinate about 46% of the eligible population.

The Guilford County health department could receive 3,300 doses as part of the first wave. Forsyth County reports 3,900. Health leaders in Randolph County plan to get 900 doses of Pfizer vaccine, and Alamance County expects to get 600.

“The best way to protect your child from serious illness and possible death from COVID is to have them vaccinated. It’s the best tool we have,” said Dr. Emmanuel Walter Jr., medical director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute.

Duke researchers say the 10-microgram dose of Pfizer is safe and effective for children ages 5-11, who would receive about a third of the dose given to adults.

Doctors have monitored 4,500 children since March. 3,000 of them received the Pfizer vaccine, the others received a placebo.

Walter said there were breakthrough cases of COVID.

“There were 16 in the placebo group that occurred, and three that occurred in the vaccination group. That calculated, because it was a two-to-one randomization, gave us an estimate for 90% efficacy of the vaccine,” he explained.

Walter says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk of side effects such as myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle.

“The risk of developing myocarditis really seems to be greater after the second dose of vaccine; it is more commonly seen in males, particularly young males between the ages of 16-30. The rate in that particular group is about 40 per million second doses of vaccine received,” he said.

Orange caps will differentiate the lower-dose vaccine to help suppliers know which vials are intended for children-only use when federal agents give the final stamp of approval.

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said there will be plenty of supply.

“We have about 750 locations where we think a vaccine will be available for our 5-11 year olds,” she said. “They will be in the offices of pediatricians, public health departments, as well as at our pharmacies across the state.”

Pediatric vaccines are not shipped until FDA emergency use authorization is granted. If that happens, it can be delivered within nine days of that decision.

The schedule for doses would be the same, children ages 5-11 would be given two doses three weeks apart.

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