With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signing off on the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, could be administering vaccines for that age group as early as Friday, county officials said.
Anne Arundel is home to about 51,000 children in that age range, and County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said the county has enough vaccines to give about 25% of those children their first dose of the two-shot regimen in the first week or so.
“We could realistically get every child at least their first dose within the next couple of months as long as we get supply and that’s really the main limitation,” Kalyanaraman said.
County Executive Steuart Pittman said he understands parents are eager to get their kids vaccinated, but he pleaded for patience.
“It is always frustrating when there are not enough to go around and there are going to be a lot of families who are going to be in a big, big hurry to get this done — and I’m glad that they are. It means that people really want this and want to get their kids vaccinated,” Pittman said.
Kalyanaraman said there will be just a few hundred appointments available the first day at one location, but the vaccine rollout will expand as the weeks go on.
Starting Nov. 8, vaccines will be administered at dozens of sites throughout the county, including pediatric offices, pharmacies, elementary schools and county vaccine clinics, such as Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Baymeadow in Glen Burnie and the Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis.
Information on how to make vaccine appointments will be posted on the county’s website over the next few days.
The county will also allow people to make appointments by phone and will provide doses for organizations to disperse in underserved communities.
Initially, vaccines will be given through appointments only, and a child will have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Kalyanaraman said the Pfizer vaccine for children is exactly the same as that being administered to older Americans. It will also be two shots, three weeks apart. The only difference is that the dosing is one-third the size of a regular adult dose. The vaccines for children will also come in their own vials and packaging, as a safety measure to ensure the correct dosage is administrated.
“I’ve reviewed the data and it’s impressive, with over 90% effectiveness in preventing COVID cases in the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated,” said Kalyanaraman
He said the safety profile is no different from what’s been seen in those 12 and older. He also reassured parents that the CDC will continue to collect safety data on children getting vaccinated to make sure that if any safety issues arise, they can be detected.
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