(INDIANAPOLIS) – The COVID vaccine isn’t available for kids under 12 yet. That could change as early as Wednesday.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine last week for kids as young as five, but the final step for any vaccine is approval by the Centers for Disease Control’s Committee on Immunization Practices. That meeting happens Tuesday, and is expected to bring the final green light.
Community Health Network pediatrics medical director Suzanne Grannan says if your pediatrician has doses on hand, you might be able to get your child vaccinated as soon as the committee votes. She expects the vaccine to be widely available by Wednesday.
While the pace of adult vaccinations has slowed to a trickle, it’s not as simple as going to the same pharmacy where you got your own shot. Pediatric doses are one-third the strength of adult doses, and will be distributed in a different color vial to make sure there are no mistakes. Indiana is receiving 200,000 kid-size doses this week — Grannan says she’s heard from doctors who received their vaccine supplies on Monday.
Grannan expects the majority of preteen vaccinations to take place in pediatricians’ offices and clinics, rather than pharmacies. She expects that’ll be parents’ preference, and notes doctors’ offices are more accustomed to dealing with screaming kids. She says the Indiana Department of Health advised doctors several weeks ago to begin getting ready for the expected approval.
The state health department plans to have child-size vaccine available at its mass vaccination clinic across the street from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Grannan says she’s heard from many parents eager to get their kids vaccinated as quickly as possible. She estimates 30% or so of families will be jostling for the first batch of appointments.
As with the adult vaccine, Grannan acknowledges there will also be hardcore opponents, and parents who want to take a “wait and see” approach. Grannan advises them to have no qualms about getting their kids vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective, and while it’s true kids have been less likely to get serious cases of COVID, Grannan says that risk is much higher than any risk of significant side effects from the vaccine itself. She notes no parent wants her child to be the one who contracts a serious case.
Nearly 1,300 Hoosiers age five to 19 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, a quarter of them in the last four months.
Just 39% of Hoosiers age 12-to-19 have been vaccinated. Grannan expects vaccination rates among five-to-11-year-olds to be similar, though she notes the national rate for teenagers has been higher, around 50%.