On Tuesday, the Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously recommended children 5-11 years old receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“This is a really important day for children in the United States,” said Dr. Neal Davis, a Utah pediatrician and medical director of pediatric community-based care for Intermountain Healthcare.
In a press conference on Tuesday evening, Davis said the ACIP had reviewed data for vaccine effectiveness as well as safety data and found the benefits to children far outweigh any presented risk. Davis said the federal government was working with the Utah Department of Health to distribute the vaccine, and doses should be available as early as next week.
Davis said Intermountain clinics, Primary Children’s Hospital’s “Shot Spot” as well as other clinics and pharmacies have plans in place for vaccine distribution. However, Davis said parents who are interested in getting their children vaccinated should contact their local clinic for details.
“It’s always a good idea to touch base with your child’s medical provider clinic to find out the system for being able to get the vaccine,” Davis said.
It was unclear how many doses Intermountain would be getting, or how many were coming to Utah.
“The good news is that the federal government has secured a significant number of these vaccines,” Davis said. “It’s important to know that there will be vaccine for your child.”
The jab for children differs in that it is one-third the strength of the dose for those 12-years-old and up: young children receive 10 micrograms of the Pfizer vaccine as opposed to 30 micrograms.
Davis said children will need two doses separated by three weeks, and the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered in tandem with other vaccines.
In a recent study, Davis said, the vaccine in children was found to be 90 percent effective against symptomatic disease, and there were no hospitalizations or deaths. In general, Davis said, vaccinated children experienced mild side effects, similar to those caused by other vaccines, including fevers and aches that lasted a couple of days.
“There were also no serious side effects in the study as well,” Davis said.
According to Davis, over 600 children have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Utah and over 100 children developed multisystem inflammatory disorder — a condition in children related to COVID-19 where organs and tissues can become severely inflamed, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“It’s true that children are less impacted than at-risk adults, but it’s also true that children are definitely impacted from this virus,” Davis said.
Even if a child has already had COVID, Davis recommended the vaccine be administered.
“It seems very clear,” Davis said. “Get the vaccine, even if your child had COVID. This provides added protection, including for the delta variant — which is very important.”
For Davis, the response from parents in his clinic had been overwhelmingly positive, and his clinic was already scheduling children to get their first dose of the vaccine.
“This is a really big step forward to make the lives of children better,” Davis said. “And parents in general are quite excited about that.”
Vaccines for everyone 5 and older are also available through the Bear River Health Department. For more info, visit BRHD.org.