CLEVELAND — It could be a matter of weeks now before our nation’s 5- to 11-year-old children will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination. The Biden Administration released details about its distribution strategy Wednesday. According to an operational planning guide obtained by ABC News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say jurisdictions should be “ready to vaccinate,” and is asking states to request their pediatric doses in advance of the Food & Drug Administration advisory panel’s meeting next week.
The White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said the administration enrolled more than 25,000 pediatricians, family doctors and other primary care providers to administer Pfizer-BioNTech's pediatric vaccines, which are one-third of the adult dose.
The Cleveland Clinic confirmed it’s been among the hospital systems collaborating on the rollout. Chair of Primary Care Pediatrics at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Kim Giuliano, MD said they’ve also been strategizing during routine meetings with the Ohio Department of Health, that have been ongoing since the start of the pandemic.
“There is a significant interest in the community in order to be able to vaccinate children in primary care pediatric offices,” she said. Zients affirmed that interest, saying the administration wants to get doses for children into settings that parents and kids “are familiar with and trust.”
Pediatric doses will also be shipped to pharmacies, community health centers and rural health centers in an effort to guarantee equitable access to every family that wants one. Giuliano suspects parents will be eager to protect their kids from the virus that has plagued our nation for so long.
“You know, people have changed their lives around this,” she said. “They’re making decisions about whether or not they’re going to attend family events with vulnerable family members. They’re deciding if an indoor birthday party is really in everybody’s best interests.”
She also acknowledged the toll the delta surge has taken on health care workers, who have been treating more children with COVID-19, getting sicker than they have before.
“We’re seeing more severe disease cases with children being hospitalized, having long-term symptoms from their disease, or potentially even having fatalities. So affording children with the opportunity to be vaccinated and protected like the rest of our population is really, hopefully, reassuring,” she said. We also know the vaccines have been shrouded in skepticism, despite the overwhelming data showing they are safe and effective. That same skepticism could stir fears in parents faced with getting their children these pediatric doses.
“While this may be a newer vaccine, and we certainly understand that people may have some questions around that, really the odds are in our favor to vaccinate children because right now, with how contagious it has become, it’s not a matter of if your child gets it, it’s when your child gets COVID,” she said.
Giuliano addressed the data, saying in older children it has shown they’re more likely to have complications from the disease than from the vaccine. She said that the same trend is panning out in the data we’re seeing for younger children as well.
“We really want to make sure that they are equipped to fight off the disease as effectively as possible,” she said.
News 5 also checked with University Hospitals. It says once the FDA authorizes the vaccine for this age group it will be ready to provide shots in pediatricians' offices or vaccine clinics. Parents will be able to call to schedule their child's appointment, and will need to sign a consent form.
Visit our Vaccinating Ohio page for the latest updates on Ohio's vaccination program, including links to sign up for a vaccine appointment, a map of nearby vaccination sites, a detailed breakdown of the state's current vaccine phase, and continuing local coverage of COVID-19 vaccines in Northeast Ohio.
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