SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Now that the Food and Drug Administration has given the final signoff to Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot for kids ages 5-11, local health officials are preparing to administer those doses.
Tuesday evening, a federal advisory panel unanimously decided Pfizer’s shots should be opened to the 28 million youngsters in that age group. Millions of shots made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have already been shipped to states, doctors’ offices and pharmacies, to be ready for CDC’s decision.
Last week, to prepare for the approval, the Utah Department of Health ordered an initial shipment of 109,000 pediatric doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. A statement from the department following the FDA’s approval says the state will begin making weekly orders now. Doses are shipped directly to healthcare providers and have already started arriving at their offices.
In Utah alone, nearly 366,000 children are now eligible for the vaccine. If you are the parent or guardian of one of those children, here’s what you need to know about the process in Utah:
Where can my child get the vaccine?
As we saw with all other rollouts of the COVID-19 vaccine, providers like health departments, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices will begin offering vaccinations over the next several days.
Some local health departments are already scheduling appointments. According to UDOH, appointments are expected to be widely available at other providers by Monday, November 8.
For a full list of vaccine providers, visit the state’s website. You are encouraged to check this site often, call your child’s doctor’s office or pharmacy, or the local health department for information and to schedule a vaccination appointment.
Is the vaccine safe?
Pfizer’s study of over 2,200 children found the kid-sized dose is nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19. As Associated Press reports, 16 children who received placebo doses were diagnosed with COVID-19 while just three tested positive after getting the real vaccine.
The FDA examined more children, a total of 3,100 who were vaccinated, in concluding the shots are safe. The younger children experienced similar or fewer reactions – such as sore arms, fever, or achiness – than teens or young adults get after larger doses.
According to the Associated Press, the FDA’s study wasn’t large enough to detect any extremely rare side effects, such as the heart inflammation that occasionally occurs after the second full-strength dose, mostly in young men and teen boys. Regulators ultimately decided the benefits from vaccination outweigh the potential that younger kids getting a smaller dose also might experience that rare risk.
What else should I know?
The CDC reports more than 8,300 children between the ages of 5 and 11 have been hospitalized for COVID-19, with about one-third needing intensive care. At least 94 children in this age group have died because of the virus.
Pfizer is now testing COVID-19 vaccine shots for babies and preschoolers. That data is expected to be available around the end of the year. The Moderna vaccine is also being studied among younger children but the FDA has not yet cleared its use for teenagers.
Some countries, like China, have already begun using the vaccine in children under the age of 12. The Associated Press reports China began vaccinating children as young as 3-years-old.