The vaccine requires two doses within three weeks, plus two more weeks to achieve full immunity.
The United States entered a new phase of its vaccination campaign against the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday, with inoculations now available to millions of school-age children, following more than 18 months of illness, hospitalizations, deaths, and school suspension.
With the federal government promising enough vaccines to protect the nation’s 28 million children ages 5 to 11, pediatric offices, pharmacies, schools, and clinics will offer the vaccines after final approval Tuesday night.
Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said she doesn’t expect chaos similar to the initial launch of adult inoculations a year ago. The city hoped to have enough doses in just the first week to vaccinate nearly half of its 210,000 school-age children and many more doses afterward.
“Our goal is to be prepared, to have a smooth distribution,” Arwady said.
Brian Giglio, of Alexandria, Virginia, brought his 8-year-old son Carter to get vaccinated Wednesday morning at the National Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. The boy has Type 1 diabetes, putting him at risk for complications if he does arrive. to get infected.
“Carter is the last in our household to be vaccinated and he was always the one that worried us the most,” Giglio said. “So it seems like today is like a direct pass for us to start living our lives again, and we couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who has been involved in this process for helping us feel the freedom we feel today.”
Carter said he’s eager to stop wearing the mask once it’s fully inoculated, so he can get back to smelling the things he smelled without it. “I’m ready to throw it away,” he said.
Cate Zeigler-Amon, 10, was first in line when she arrived Wednesday morning at a vehicular vaccination center at Viral Solutions in Atlanta. The girl moved a lot in the car, she stuck half of her body out the window in anticipation of being vaccinated, a moment she broadcast live from her computer during the morning announcements at her school.
After getting vaccinated, Cate said she was “very, very, very excited and very happy” and was looking forward to eating inside a restaurant, hugging her friends, and celebrating her birthday indoors next month “instead of having a frozen one. birthday party outside ”.
The children ‘s dose of vaccine Pfizer-BionTech exceeded two barriers on Tuesday: received the recommendation of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), followed by the green light from the director of the agency, Rochelle Walensky.
The move means sleepovers, play dates and family reunions postponed for more than a year will be possible again for many children, along with fewer school disruptions.
“There are kids in second grade who have never experienced a normal school year,” Walensky said. “Pediatric vaccination has the power to help us change that.”
Thousands of pediatricians ordered doses ahead of time, and Pfizer began shipping shortly after the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision on Friday to authorize emergency use. Pfizer expects to make more than 19,000 shipments for a total of 11 million doses in the next few days and that millions more will be available weekly.
The vaccine – one-third the dose for adolescents and adults and administered with smaller needles – requires two doses within three weeks, plus two more weeks to achieve full immunity. That means children who get vaccinated now will be protected by the end of the year.
“This is a big milestone for kids ages 5 to 11 because they are almost 40% of those under the age of 18,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician in Decatur, Georgia, who received her first shipment Tuesday morning.
Many localities were planning mass vaccination events in the coming days, and while many pediatric offices expected strong demand at least initially, nearly two-thirds of parents interviewed by the Kaiser Family Foundation said they would wait or not vaccinate their children.
Walensky said he understood the parents’ fears, but said, “We have taken the time to get it right.” He said clinical trials in children showed no “serious incidents” associated with the vaccine.
Since the pandemic began, at least 94 children between the ages of 5 and 11 have died of COVID-19, more than 8,300 have been hospitalized, and more than 5,000 have developed a serious inflammatory condition linked to the coronavirus. Young black and Latino people and those with chronic conditions have been the most affected.
However, while some health authorities claim that minorities must be overrepresented in COVID-19 vaccine studies because they are disproportionately affected by the virus, nearly 80% of the children in the Pfizer study were white. The total number of black youth was 6%, Latino 21%, Asian 6%, and less than 1% were American Indian or Alaska Native or Hawaii.