TAMPA, Fla. — Millions more children are now able to get an extra layer of protection against COVID-19 after the CDC Director signed off on Pfizer’s vaccine for kids 5 to 11 years old.
Doctors and public health experts in the Tampa Bay area answered parental questions for ABC Action News about the vaccine and where they can get the shot.
“It’s good timing because it’s the beginning of November, so we can start rolling out the vaccines before the holidays,” said Dr. Michael Teng, an Associate Professor at USF Health.
Doctors in the area want parents to be assured that studies have shown the vaccine is safe and effective as the rollout for this vaccine gets underway.
“We have the kind of logistics already in place from the previous rollouts,” said Teng. “I think that Pfizer has already filled a lot of vials, so they’re ready to go. I think it’s just a matter of shipping them.”
ABC Action News checked in with local doctor’s offices and pharmacies about the rollout process. Walgreens said it will begin giving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11 in thousands of stores nationwide beginning Saturday, Nov. 6.
Some CVS Pharmacy locations will offer this vaccine for this age group starting Sunday, Nov. 7. Publix said Pfizer doses for children ages 5 to 11 will be available as select pharmacies receive the vaccine over the next few days.
Pediatricians at Children’s Medical Center said they don’t yet have the vaccine in stock and are waiting to place an order.
Dr. Allison Messina, the chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, explained this vaccine for this age group is a third of the dose that’s given to older kids and adults and that it is packaged differently, too.
“It’s orange as opposed to purple, and that’s important just so there are no mix-ups. The other thing is the vaccines come in a kit with a smaller needle for smaller arms,” said Messina. “That’s really the big difference. It’s really a matter of dosing.”
The CDC said distribution of pediatric vaccinations across the country started this week with plans to scale up to full capacity starting the week of November 8th. Experts point to pediatricians as a good option to get the shot, where parent's questions can be met with answers.
“It’s going to be available in very rapid order. If it’s not available today, it will likely be available in the next week or two,” said Dr. Messina. “For the children whose parents may be a little bit more on the fence about whether they want to do this or not, I think their pediatrician is the best person that they could talk to. That’s the person that knows your child the best in terms of their medical history, and they can help you do that risk-benefit calculation in your head.”