PROVIDENCE, RI — Gov. Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced 5-11 COVID-19 vaccinations are now available and, joined the FDA, CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics in recommending the shots for the age group.
The CDC gave final approval to using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for about 28 million children in the age group Tuesday, and the AAP released a policy statement recommending all eligible children without contraindications get vaccinated.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The formulation of the vaccine for younger children was studied and reviewed extensively before federal health officials authorized its use. It was determined to be 90.7 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 disease in children 5 to 11, and no significant safety issues were identified.
“The best way to keep your family safe when it comes to COVID-19 is to get everyone who is eligible vaccinated. That now includes children 5 to 11 years of age. There will be vaccination opportunities for children 5 to 11 in every community throughout the state,” said Director of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. “This vaccine has been studied and monitored very carefully. It is safe, and it works. If there is a child who is between 5 and 11 years old in your household, get that child vaccinated as soon as possible.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics also urged parents to get their children vaccinated. “Sharing this life-saving vaccine with our children is a huge step forward and provides us all with more confidence and optimism about the future,” AAP President Dr. Lee Savio Beers said in a news release. “Pediatricians are eager to participate in the immunization process and talk with families about this vaccine. We want to ensure that access to this vaccine is equitable, and that every child is able to benefit.”
The pediatric vaccine already is being shipped around the country, AAP reported. Vaccine providers must use the pediatric vaccine formulation with orange caps and labels. Children ages 5-11 years will be vaccinated with two 10-microgram doses administered 21 days apart. The dosage is one-third of the adolescent and adult dose.
Dosages are determined by age, not a child’s size or weight. Some children may be 11 years old when they get their first dose and 12 at the time of their second dose. They should receive a dose based on their age on the day of vaccination, according to the CDC.
The COVID-19 vaccine can be given at the same times as other routine vaccines but should be done in a different injection site. The CDC and AAP also recommend children with prior COVID-19 infection get vaccinated.
When children 5 to 11 can get vaccinated
To date, 900 doses of vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old have arrived in Rhode Island. 9,900 additional doses are expected today, according to the RIDOH. Thousands more doses are expected in the coming days. Because much of Rhode Island’s vaccine for this population is still in transit, vaccine may not be available in some of the settings listed below for several days.
Where will children 5 to 11 be able to get vaccinated
Please be certain that the appointment you make is for a slot for a child 5 to 11. Children 5 to 11 cannot receive the vaccine that older children and adults receive.
- Clinics at schools – School districts are partnering with municipalities to offer more than 130 vaccination clinics for first and second doses for children 5 to 11 years old. These clinics will be held during the evening starting the week of November 7th. These clinics are open to all children 5 to 11 years old (not just the children who attend the host schools). Unless otherwise noted, vaccine will not be available for older children and adults at school clinics. A list of clinics is available at https://covid.ri.gov/5to11vaccine.
- The offices of some primary care providers – Many pediatrician and family medicine practices are enrolled as providers of COVID-19 vaccine. Contact your child’s healthcare provider to learn if they are vaccinating younger children.
- The State-run site at Sockanosset Cross Road – Appointments for children 5 to 11 at the Sockanosset Cross Road site in Cranston will start to become available today at 2 p.m. on VaccinateRI.org. People can also call 844-930-1779 if they need assistance scheduling an appointment.
- Pharmacies – Vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old will be available at many CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Stop and Shop sites. Availability at these chain pharmacies is expected this weekend. Visit the websites of these pharmacies for more information. Appointment slots for independent pharmacies will be listed on VaccinateRI.org.
- Health centers – Many health centers are doing direct outreach to their patients about vaccine availability.
- Community clinics – Additional community clinics for children 5 to 11 will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
Ongoing safety monitoring
Pfizer has updated its safety monitoring plan to ensure that monitoring happens for health issues more common in children 5 to 11. In addition, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have several systems in place to continually monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety and allow for the rapid detection and investigation of potential safety problems. It is mandatory for Pfizer and healthcare providers to report to any serious health issues in people who were vaccinated.
COVID-19 and children
Children of all ages can become ill with COVID-19. Most children do not become as sick as adults. However, some children become severely ill with COVID-19. Children with underlying conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and asthma, may be at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, 194 children 14 and younger have been hospitalized in Rhode Island with COVID-19. Additionally, children can spread COVID-19 to the other people in their lives (who may be more vulnerable).
Facebook Live sessions
RIDOH will be hosting two Facebook Live sessions on November 8th (one in English and one in Spanish) with community pediatricians to help answer parents’ questions about COVID-19 vaccine. The English session will start at 6 p.m. The Spanish session will start at 7 p.m. More information will be shared in the coming days.
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