Local medical offices prepare to vaccinate children against COVID-19

COVID-19 Vaccine

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Later this week, millions of children could possibly become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met Tuesday for its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to vote on whether to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old.

The advisory panel recommended shots be made available to younger children on Tuesday. The matter then was set to go before the CDC director for final approval.

The vaccine was already approved months ago for children 12 through 17 years old.

“When that approval has been granted, we’re prepared to go ahead and deliver the vaccine to the families that so desire,” said Dr. Doug Mitchell, who is the medical director for the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters Medical Group.

Mitchell says they’re coordinating with the Virginia Department of Health to get ready to distribute the vaccine.

About three-quarters of their offices already have the vaccine ready to go, according to Mitchell, but he believes it will be a much slower rollout to do some parents wanting to vaccine their children when others won’t get them vaccinated.

“We’re not going to have all 28 million children get the vaccine later this week or next week, and we couldn’t handle that anyway,” he said.

While pharmacies, mass vaccination sites, and even some schools might offer the vaccine, Mitchell says their medical professionals will also distribute it.

But, there will be some challenges in doing so.

“Lots of clinics, we don’t have enough nursing staff to deliver the vaccines that we want to, so there’s some challenges. Our advice is you can contact your pediatrician for those who are hesitant and want to ask additional questions. Each of the practices will handle it the best they can for their location. Because patient population is a little different for each practice in how we can get kids in and vaccinate,” he said.

The vaccine is safe to take with others, including the flu shot, which Mitchell says parents will hopefully take advantage of the opportunity to help keep kids safe and in school.

While case numbers are decreasing among children and adults alike, Mitchell says it’s still important to get people vaccinated, especially with the holidays coming up.

“Our number of pediatric cases have followed the regional trends. We’re seeing fewer mild cases,” he said. “We’ve had much fewer cases in patients then we did in August and September. That’s the worst we’ve ever seen. Those numbers are decreasing, which is good news but that doesn’t mean we’re through this. We still need to continue to provide the vaccination and vaccinate the population to keep those trends downward.”

CHKD is hosting a virtual town hall meeting next week for families and parents about the COVID-19 vaccination.

It will be held on Nov. 10 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Click here to join the conversation.

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