Parents who have children between the ages of 5 to 11 who wanted to get their child vaccinated against COVID-19 can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the Pfizer vaccine under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) after the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) concluded the Pfizer vaccine was safe for children between the ages of 5 to 11, which now makes 28 million more Americans eligible for vaccination.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, long-term complications such as “long-COVID” and more. Due to the ever-growing spread of the Delta variant, a surge of COVID-19 cases in children throughout the summer, was reported especially during an uptick in the South. During a six-week period in late June to mid-August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased fivefold.
Just like any vaccine, a trial was conducted targeted towards the younger age group. In Pfizer’s clinical trial, vaccinations had a nearly 91 percent efficacy rate in preventing COVID-19 among children age 5-11 years. In clinical trials, vaccine side effects were mild and similar to those seen in adults with the most common side effect reported in children as being a sore arm near the injection site. The children’s vaccine, which is a 2-dose shot, is now available at thousands of pediatric health care provider offices, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers and more.
“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus that causes COVID-19,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky said in a statement. “We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine. As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated.”
Governor Kathy Hochul also added, “This is the moment all of us have been waiting for, the opportunity to protect more of our children from this dangerous virus. As we head into the holiday season, I urge all parents and guardians to reach out to their pediatricians and family physicians to get their 5-11 year-olds vaccinated against COVID-19. We finally have this vaccine available to help keep our children, as well as our loved ones, safe and healthy, and it is critical that we take advantage of it.”
New Yorkers looking to schedule vaccine appointments for their children can contact their child’s pediatrician, family physician, county health departments, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), rural health centers, or pharmacies that may be administering the vaccine for this age group, since the vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds is just one-third of a dosage given to adolescents and adults. Parents and guardians can visit www.vaccines.gov, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations.
And to make sure children ages 5-11 get vaccinated, Hochul recently launched a new incentive program called “Vaccinated, Educate, Graduate.” Parents and guardians of children ages 5 through 11 who receive their first vaccine dose by Dec. 19 can enter the state’s incentive program for a chance for their child to win a full scholarship to any two- or four-year SUNY or CUNY college or university. The scholarship includes tuition, room and board. Ten winners will be announced each week beginning Nov. 24, with a total of 50 winners being selected over the five-week period.
Not only is Hochul looking to get more kids vaccinated to keep them safe, she also is combating misinformation being spread about the vaccines.
“We talked about the fact that there’s a lot of disinformation going around there, which is a polite way of saying there’s a lot of lies floating around and unfortunately people are believing the lies,” she said. “We have to stop that right now and we’re working at it from so many different approaches. So we have a vaccination kit for parents, vax for kids campaign. We’re going to have social media messages, posters, information cards, kid-friendly stickers and translating all the documents in different languages so everybody understands how important this is. This will unlock the door to a normal existence for all of us and it starts with the kids. A lot of families are getting back together. Maybe they didn’t see each other last year because it was still in the throes of the pandemic. It’s hard to believe that we didn’t even have a vaccine for adults available this time last year. Now the families will be gathering, let’s make sure that grandma and grandpa who suffered so much to be away from the kids, do not get sick from children who are exposed to other kids. If everybody gets vaccinated, we’re going to protect all of our family members. That’s really important to me.”