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US Off to fast start, COVID-19 vaccinations for kids 5-11 will ramp up in coming days

22:10  03 november  2021
22:10  03 november  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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Connecticut's Hartford Hospital didn't waste any time.

As soon as Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine was approved Tuesday night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for use in children 5 to 11, the hospital began getting shots in little arms.

“It’s a sigh of relief as parents,” said Reem Nouh, whose 7-year-old son, Kareem Omar, was vaccinated at the hospital Tuesday night.

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It didn’t hurt,” Kareem said seconds after he received his shot, reassuring the other children waiting.

He was the first school-age child in the nation to get the vaccine after it was authorized, said White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients.

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Dozens more locations around the country began administering first doses to kids  Wednesday, and hundreds more sites are expected to open in the coming days as the national push to vaccinate about 28 million elementary school children ramps up.

CVS and Walgreens, the two largest pharmacy chains in the country, accept appointments for COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 through 11.

Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, opened its online appointment system for children's COVID-19 shots Tuesday night.

"We had 2,000 appointments open, and they were all gone within two and a half hours," said Michael Storey, a pharmacist at the hospital. More will be added soon, he said.

By the end of the week, the government website Vaccines.gov will list places where kids can get vaccinated in their neighborhood, Zients said at a news conference Wednesday.

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At that point, parents and guardians can go to the website, type in their ZIP code, click a box specifying they're looking for the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine and get a list of clinics, physicians and pharmacies that have it available. The list is expected to expand over time as more sites open appointments.

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On some sites, it will be possible to click through and make an appointment online. On others, a phone number will be listed to call and make an appointment.

By Monday, "parents will have approximately 20,000 trusted and convenient locations to get their kids vaccinated, with more and more sites coming online in the weeks ahead," Zients said Wednesday.

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All that's music to the ears of San Francisco dad Alexander Akin. He's monitoring announcements, so his son can get vaccinated as quickly as possible against the disease, which is the eighth-leading cause of death among children in the age group.

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"With the holidays coming up and the prospect of spending time with older relatives, even one extra week of lead time could give us some additional peace of mind," said Akin, who runs a small bookshop.

At the news conference Wednesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky assured parents the science behind the decision to recommend the vaccine for younger kids is sound, and the shots will protect them and others from getting sick.

“In clinical trials, vaccination was found to be nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 among children ages 5 to 11. In clinical trials, vaccine side effects were mild, self-limiting,” she said. "The most common side effect was a sore arm."

States, pharmacies, hospitals, physician's offices and community health centers began placing orders for vaccine last week, which allowed some doses to be pre-positioned, Zients said Monday.

A superhero-themed vaccination clinic at Nationwide Children's  began giving COVID-19 shots to the younger children Wednesday. The system had 1,800 doses on hand.

Other sites are waiting until they have actual vials of vaccine before opening their appointment books. Seattle Children's hospital has plans ready for multiple clinics in the area. It will open registration Thursday for appointments starting Tuesday.

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"It all depends when the vaccine arrives on our loading dock," said Dr. Ruth McDonald, who leads Seattle Children's COVID Emergency Command Center. "We don't want our families to schedule and then have to cancel on them because we didn't get vaccine in time."

Across Utah, Idaho and Nevada, Intermountain Healthcare will begin giving the vaccine Monday.

“We are preparing to offer the COVID vaccine for children through our family practice and pediatrician clinics,” said Lori Abeyta,  a clinical specialist leading the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for medical clinics. “Most offices are taking appointments for patients starting next week, but parents can check with their providers to see their procedures.”

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For adults, about 70% of all COVID-19 vaccinations are provided at pharmacies, according to the CDC. It's likely that most children will get the shots in doctors' offices.

More than 60% of parents say they want their kids to get vaccinated at their regular doctor's office; 34% say they favor a local pharmacy, a survey presented Tuesday by the CDC found.

Nationwide, 95% of health departments say local large pediatric providers will provide COVID-19 vaccine for kids; 83% of pharmacies plan to offer shots for school-age children, the CDC found.

The pediatric dosage of the Pfizer vaccine is one-third that of the adult vaccine. It is still a two-dose series, given three weeks apart. Like adults, children will need to wait 15 minutes after getting the shot to watch for side effects.

Since the pandemic began, 65,000 children 18 and younger have been admitted to hospitals for COVID-19 and 793 have died, the CDC reported Wednesday. Among children 5 to 11, more than 8,300 children have been hospitalized for COVID-19, one-third in intensive care units.

COVID-19 has accounted for 1.7% of the deaths of U.S. children 5 to 11 in the past 12 months, and a total of 94 have died this year, the CDC reported.

As of Tuesday, 191 million Americans were fully vaccinated, 57.6% of the total U.S. population, according to the CDC.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Off to fast start, COVID-19 vaccinations for kids 5-11 will ramp up in coming days

School mask mandates are starting to disappear. Is it too soon? .
While studies show that masks in school work and CDC mask guidance has not changed, whether a child has to wear a mask at school at this point in the Covid-19 pandemic depends largely on where they live in the country. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines have not changed. Due to the highly contagious Delta variant, the CDC guidelines recommend everyone -- students, staff, teachers and visitors to K-12 schools -- wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The American Academy of Pediatrics makes a similar recommendation.

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This is interesting!