As the United States launches a campaign to vaccinate teens against COVID-19, public health officials are taking action on a new strategy designed to involve GPs, pediatricians and schools.
Parents can take their children to existing suppliers for the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE shot after this week’s authorization of the vaccine for those ages 12-15. But a federal advisory board suggested Wednesday that a new family-oriented approach would help improve both access and equity.
There are nearly 17 million children aging in the U.S., or about 5.3 percent of the population. Now the nation will mobilize to protect this demographic. Vaccinations begin as early as Thursday in North Carolina, Friday in Tennessee and the weekend in Colorado.
“The push is that we now think about people who are part of a family unit, especially those people who are disproportionately affected by the disease and who have the lowest vaccination rates,” said Rhea Boyd, a pediatrician in Bay Area. California has developed a campaign to provide black communities with credible information about the shootings.
“This is a new opportunity to relaunch our local and state vaccination efforts,” Boyd said, suggesting that it will not only focus on children, but also adults who have not yet been vaccinated. The goal should be to use community centers that already cater to families, such as schools, places of worship or boys ’and girls’ clubs, he said.
On Wednesday, officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, contrary to public perception, COVID-19 carries significant risks for children. The rate of cases in young children and adolescents began to exceed that of people aged 65 and over in early April and hospitalizations of children do not decrease as rapidly as in those over 18 years of age.
It is also estimated that COVID-19 was one of the top ten causes of death among adolescents in 2020, according to officials, according to previous year’s mortality data. At the same time, black and Hispanic children have been disproportionately impacted by COVID.
Public health experts are now encouraging states and the federal government to be proactive in making sure there are no other gaps in access and adoption, especially when a younger group of teens and preteens are being preparing for the new school year.
“School vaccinations have the advantage of reaching teens in their own communities,” CDC’s Sara Oliver said during Wednesday’s meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, also known as ACIP.
State and local health departments are already putting in place preparations for school clinics.
Meg Sullivan, the medical director of the public health department in Mecklenburg, North Carolina, said she has long been hyper-focused in the school setting. Mecklenburg County will use messaging specifically targeted at teens and their parents in order to vaccinate their 60,000 children ages 12 to 15, Sullivan said.
The health department has planned a series of vaccination events this month with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school system and is hiring nurses who work in schools to communicate the benefits of vaccines to them.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, some schools have already booked vaccine clinics for Thursday and Friday, said Anne Zink, chief physician in the state’s health and social services department. Before the clinics, they are getting parental consent. A large school district is finishing classes on Thursday, so plans to hold an end-of-year celebration later this month to get students back to the vaccine.
Nirav Shah, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and president of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said other states are trying to get parental consent properly without creating too many barriers, such as sharing large amounts of shots and how to store the Pfizer vaccine. Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
Maine will not require parents to be present when their children are vaccinated. Instead, it will allow them to give consent by phone.
The state splits shipments of more than 1,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine, the minimum order quantity, into smaller quantities, to deliver vials, and provides suppliers with dry-ice refrigerators if they do not have an ultracong freezer to store the shot.
Pediatricians, who often have expertise in vaccinations and are a trusted source of medical information for families, are also considered a key part of the following distribution. The US will rely on them to bolster confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.
But pediatric offices are being challenged by the need for special freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine, Commissioner Janet Woodcock said Monday at a news conference. They will have to look for special accommodation to participate in the latest campaign, he said.
Michael Traister, a pediatrician working in a private practice based in a New York City suburb on the Upper West Side, said his consultation has approached the state in hopes of power. administer the shot.
With good planning, Traister suggests, practice could avoid wasting doses of the two-shot regimen. Since the vaccine can be stored for five days at refrigerator temperature, scheduling appointments would be a race against time, but worth it.
“Most of our parents prefer to go to the pediatrician’s office instead of the big centers,” Traister said.
And introducing shots into the pediatrician’s office could also help raise rates for other vaccines that have fallen during the pandemic. Kate Woodworth, of the CDC, said Wednesday that COVID-19 vaccines can be given in conjunction with other traits, an adjustment of the prior guideline that people should wait two weeks before and after getting their full regimen.
When non-COVID vaccines are given at the same time as other shots, there is ample data that have been shown to work just as well and have adverse effects similar to when given individually, Woodworth said.
Still, Boyd suggests that mass vaccination sites, pharmacies, and mobile vaccination units will be the tools needed to reach children who do not have a primary care physician or frequently interact with the health care system.
Heather Rosenstein, of Westchester County, said she was eager for her 15-year-old son, Spencer, to be vaccinated. Spencer began his first year of high school remotely, and although he has since returned to the classroom, he sees vaccination as the bridge to a resemblance to normalcy.
Rosenstein, who has received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine herself, has explored a number of options: Her son’s school district has partnered with White Plains Hospital and Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corp to administer the shots to young people.
Whatever path you take, expect it to be fast.
“We want Spencer to be able to see my parents and other elderly or at-risk people,” Rosenstein said.