With the announcement that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine can be given to people up to 12 years old, local suppliers say they are ready to start vaccinations.
On Wednesday, a group of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention granted emergency authorization for the administration of the Pfizer COVID vaccine to people up to 12 years old.
The group’s decision came as no surprise. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine for younger people on Monday.
The University of Texas medical branch planned to begin vaccinating young people in its clinics as soon as the CDC granted permission, said Janak Patel, director of infection control and health epidemiology.
“We are ready to leave the same day,” Patel said before permission was granted.
The Galveston County Health District and the medical branch were already scheduled to hold vaccination events in the school districts of Texas City, Santa Fe and Dickinson as early as Thursday. Clear Creek Independent School District partnered with Harris County Public Health to vaccinate students Thursday, a district spokeswoman said.
In some cases, the clinics were originally designed for people up to 16 years old. But with the new approval, Texas City officials said they would allow younger ones to be vaccinated with parental consent signed.
In Galveston, the district’s Teen Health Center had ordered Pfizer vaccines and would begin offering shots as soon as possible, said Angie Brown, the center’s director.
Once the vaccines are on hand, the school can get students out of class to get their vaccines, Brown said. Only students whose parents have given permission and who have stated that they themselves want to be vaccinated will be inoculated, Brown said.
Brown already said there was already a lot of expectation among parents and students to receive shots as soon as the FDA approved on Monday.
“By the time it was announced that it was expected to be approved, we started receiving phone calls,” Brown said. “We prepare for a significant number of people who want it.”
While young people have generally been less susceptible to serious illnesses if they are infected with the virus, public health officials say getting vaccinated is a good idea. The chances of getting seriously ill are not nil and young people can transmit the virus to more susceptible people, Patel said.
“The kids are getting infected,” Patel said. “Even if they are becoming infected at a slightly lower level than adults, they can still transmit the infection to adults.
“About a quarter of our population is children under the age of 18. If you exclude them from vaccines, it is clear that infections will be concentrated among young children and will be responsible for spreading at risk to adults who they have not been vaccinated ”.
Studies have shown that with other types of viruses, such as the flu, vaccinating children helps protect larger and more vulnerable groups from infection, Patel said.
Patel said he expected the vaccines to reach individual pediatrician offices later in the year as the supply of vaccines continues to increase and as even younger age groups are approved to receive shots.