COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – Parents who want to get their kids vaccinated for COVID-19 won’t have to wait much longer.
Kid-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were approved unanimously by a CDC panel Tuesday and many pharmacies, doctor’s offices and hospitals already have them.
The vaccine is for kids ages 5 to 11.
Some health officials are calling it a major breakthrough, after the disruption to education and development the pandemic has caused for children.
“Today is a day that many children and numerous adults — parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts, uncles, pediatricians, teachers, and coaches — have long-awaited,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA. “The authorization of this COVID-19 vaccine for younger Ohioans is yet another crucial turning point in this pandemic, allowing us to better protect young children from severe complications from COVID-19. This deadly virus has killed more than 24,000 Ohioans and has caused nearly 206,000 pediatric infections among those ages 17 and younger.”
The move makes 28 million more people across the U.S. eligible for the vaccine. That includes more than 997,000 kids in Ohio.
Although cases had been going down, OHA reports new hospital admissions are up 35.4% in kids under 17 over the last week.
More than 2,000 children under 18 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
15 children have died, according to ODH.
A Pfizer study of 2,268 children found the vaccine was almost 91% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections.
ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff held a press conference Wednesday with pediatricians from Ohio hospitals.
“I celebrate with you this day, this moment when we finally have a vaccine option for kids 5 to 11 years old,” said Michael Forbes, MD, Pediatric Intensive Care Specialist from Akron Children’s Hospital.
He said pediatric doctors were relieved at the beginning of the pandemic when kids were mostly unaffected.
“The Delta wave is different,” said Dr. Forbes. “It really highlights the need for vaccination.”
“Thank goodness we now have a vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds that can really contain the spread,” he shared.
Patty Manning-Courtney, MD, Pediatrician and Chief of Staff at Cincinnati Children’s said many children in Ohio participated in the Pfizer study.
She said the side effects appear to be similar to that of adults, but there is good news.
“Less frequent and less severe,” she said of the side effects in children.
She addressed parents’ concerns about the long-term effects of the vaccine.
“We know that vaccine side effects happen in the first 6 weeks,” she said.
“Vaccines don’t live in your system long term.”
She added, “We know for certain, we’ve seen it directly that children can have long-term side effects from COVID.”
Dr. Manning-Courtney said, “There is no evidence whatsoever that the vaccine affects fertility.”
She also talked about myocarditis, which she says is more likely to be severe in children who get coronavirus.
“If you’re worried about myocarditis in your child, you don’t want them to get COVID,” she said.
Dr. Vanderhoff says they don’t have a concern about supply issues with the vaccine.
Children will receive a shot with 10 micrograms of the vaccine, a third of the amount given to adults. They will need two doses, spaced three weeks apart.
Kids who get vaccinated by Thanksgiving will be covered by Christmas.
- Ohio Vax-2-School program has been expanded to add new age group
- 5 to 11 signups begin Wednesday
- The daily drawing deadline is Nov. 28
- The deadline for the grand prize drawing is Dec. 1
- Enter here