First pediatric COVID-19 vaccines ready for arms in the commonwealth

Coronavirus

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — On Tuesday, a version of the Pfizer vaccine was approved for children ages 5 to 11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met Tuesday for its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to vote on whether to approve the decision.

It was pushed forward unanimously by the committee.

Experts like Riverside Medical Center’s Chief Pharmacy Officer Cindy Williams tell us this age group was particularly important to get vaccinated for several reasons.

“Even though the rates may not be as high as in older adults, especially older adults with chronic conditions, what we do know is if a child gets sick with COVID, there are some potentially very serious long term effects,” explained Williams.

The Virginia Department of Health says the state is receiving around 377,000 doses of the vaccine. They’re prioritizing their distribution to mainly doctors’ offices for the time being, but can also be found in some community vaccination sites and local pharmacies.

The CDC reports more than 1.9 million known cases of coronavirus among the newly approved age group.

A Virginia Department of Health official tells 10 On Your Side that close to 1,000 children in the state ages 5 to 11 were hospitalized due to COVID-19. They also shared that 10 of them had died.

This newly approved vaccination is one-third of the adult Pfizer dose (10 micrograms versus 30 micrograms). The side effects are similar to those seen in adult patients and can be treated the same.

Doctors recommend younger patients drink plenty of water before and after their vaccination. Acetaminophen has also been approved to treat some symptoms.

There is still some hesitancy surrounding child vaccinations. One concern is an extremely rare reaction to the vaccine that causes inflammation of the heart muscle, Myocarditis. CDC and its partners say they are actively monitoring reports of myocarditis and pericarditis after the COVID-19 vaccination.

“It is a very rare side effect, but it can still happen and I think parents still need to know,” explained Williams. “It tends to be a little more prevalent in males than females. Types of things you would need to look out for a week after vaccination include any chest pain, any difficulty in breathing, any type of irregular heartbeat. You would certainly want to seek medical attention for that, but again very, very rare.”

The medical professional said if you are on the fence about getting your child the vaccine, to speak with another medical professional you trust.

“Talk with your pediatrician,” said Williams. “Make sure that you’re getting your information from a reputable source to help you make the best decision for you and your family.”

Parents looking to make an appointment for their child can click here.

There are also several upcoming clinics that will be posted through the week on the page linked below.

On Wednesday, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth also released an update on Facebook saying COVID-19 shots for young children had been ordered and would be available after they arrive.

Stay with WAVY.com for more local news updates.

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