After both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5- to 11-years-old last week, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center was ready.
The hospital says it has administered 1,294 shots to kids ages 5-11 since the CDC gave the vaccine the OK on Nov. 2, with 538 vaccines given to those in that age group on Saturday, Nov. 6, alone. Its first clinic on Nov. 3 saw more than 400 younger kids vaccinated.
“The kids were great — with some jumping for joy to get the vaccine” said Susan Wade-Murphy, RN, in a release. Wade-Murphy is the assistant vice president for patient services at Cincinnati Children's and also oversees the COVID vaccination effort.
"Knowing that each vaccine given to one child may be saving the lives of many is a powerful motivator for our dedicated nurses and other members of the Cincinnati Children’s team," she continued.
Pfizer showed its two-dose vaccine is safe and 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 in children 5- to 11-years-old. Pfizer already holds an emergency use authorization (EUA) for vaccine users ages 12 and up as well as full approval for those ages 16 and older. And while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson currently are authorized for people ages 18 and up, both companies are applying for EUAs for additional age groups.
The Pfizer dosage for younger children is about one-third of that for adults and adolescents. It's a two-shot series with doses administered three weeks apart.
Cincinnati Children's says, "Side effects, if any, typically are mild (such as soreness in the arm injected) and last a day or two."
The hospital was one of five sites in the nation to conduct adult and adolescent coronavirus vaccine trials in 2020, work that has continued this year for the 5-11 age group. The medical center now is enrolling participants in its COVID-19 vaccine trials for ages 2-6 and soon will add participants as young as six months old.
In a video provided by Cincinnati Children's, an 8-year-old named Verity explained why she wanted to get the COVID vaccine. "I told my friend Kate that I want to get the vaccine for everybody," she said, "and that I want everybody to be safe."
Due to demand, Children's is now requiring appointments for kids' vaccines at its Liberty and Green Township clinics, but walk-ins will be accepted from 4:30-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays at its main Avondale campus. Parents can schedule appointments at cincinnatichildrens.org.
In addition to Cincinnati Children's, a number of local health facilities already are stocking and administering Pfizer's vaccine for young children. UC Health is scheduling vaccinations at the UC Health outpatient pharmacy at Hoxworth Center in Corryville. TriHealth Physician Partner clinics are beginning to carry the COVID-19 vaccine for kids. Several Walgreens locations throughout Greater Cincinnati have added the children's vaccine to their scheduling systems, as well.
Other facilities are following suit. During a Nov. 4 briefing, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said that health centers, pediatricians and pharmacies throughout the state are stocking the vaccine. DeWine added that more than 850 Ohio children had gotten a Pfizer vaccine in the two days after it had been authorized.
Dr. Patricia Manning, chief of staff at Cincinnati Children’s, said on Oct. 28 that the number of pediatric COVID-19 cases admitted to the hospital had decreased, but hundreds of children continue to test positive each week. Days earlier, Dr. Robert Frenck, director of the Gamble Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s, told reporters that those getting COVID-19 most frequently right now are under 18 years old, which Manning echoed.
"We've seen the same trends in children as we're seeing in adults. But I would point out that the positivity rate in 5- to 17-year-olds is one of the highest. It's closer to 8%-9% vs. 6% overall, so children are contracting COVID and they're still spreading COVID," Manning said.
In September, Manning said that Cincinnati Children's had a significant, sustained jump in pediatric COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, adding that doctors also were seeing more children with respiratory issues such as RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and parainfluenza that normally wouldn’t arise until fall or winter.
Mary Carol Burkhardt, associate division director for primary care at Cincinnati Children’s and medical director of the hospital’s Hopple Street Health Center, said that kids should be vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent severe illness and further spread of the coronavirus.
Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.