CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot on Tuesday.
The Food and Drug Administration already authorized the shots for children ages 5 to 1, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally recommends who should receive FDA-cleared vaccines.
The announcement by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky came only hours after an advisory panel unanimously decided Pfizer’s shots should be opened to the 28 million youngsters in that age group.
The decision marks the first opportunity for Americans under 12 to get the powerful protection of any COVID-19 vaccine.
The Medical University of South Carolina here in Charleston says they’ve already ordered 3,900 doses of the Pfizer pediatric vaccine to begin distributing once clinics and sites are ready.
Elizabeth Mack is chief of pediatric critical care at MUSC Children’s Health. She says this announcement feels like Christmas morning for pediatrics.
Mack says the Pfizer vaccine for kids 5 to 11 years old is still the same drug, but it is one-third the dose of what is given to adults.
She adds that in South Carolina, only 1/3 of eligible teens in the 12 to 19 age range right now are vaccinated.
“I’m hopeful that people will certainly talk about their concerns for their individual children with their trusted health care provider, like their pediatrician, and kind of talk through it and share their specific concerns so that they can really discuss that hesitancy and hopefully move along with the science to get their kids vaccinated,” Mack said.
Dr. Mack says she gets lots of questions about the vaccine causing health issues for kids and she says she’s seen tons of sick kids with COVID in the ICU, but never a kid in the hospital from vaccine side effects.
“I think that we were all relieved in 2020 by the relatively low severity of illness that kids had,” Mack said. “And then delta was totally different. It rocked our worlds in pediatrics in terms of sick, sick, sick kids, we’ve never had the high acuity that we had related to the Delta variant.”
Mack says at MUSC, they’re prepared for people to make appointments for the pediatric vaccine within the next few days. She adds that the initial roll-out of vaccines was a heavy lift, but now that they have the staff and infrastructure in place to administer vaccines, they’ll be able to start administering pediatric vaccines much faster.
MUSC encourages people to use their MyChart account to make appointments.
Mack says MUSC is also part of Moderna’s pediatric COVID vaccine trail.
While that one is not approved yet, she says it’s been exciting to work on that. They’ve moved into their third phase this week, moving to children as young as six months old. She says it would probably be a few months before the vaccine actually moves to that age group.
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