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Louisiana says it’s ready to roll out Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5 to 11

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 6:08 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Louisiana says it is ready to distribute the lower dose Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11.

The virus has shown it does not respect age.

Dr. Mark Kline is Physician-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.

“We learned that the hard way over the summer with the Delta surge. We had a lot of kids hospitalized here at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, we had some in our ICU and unfortunately, we had two deaths here at the hospital,” said Kline.

Louisiana did not wait to begin stockpiling the lower dose of the Pfizer vaccine that was made for kids 5 to 11 years of age.

Dr. Frank Welch is the Medical Director for the state’s Immunization Program.

“It’s the same preparation but it’s one-third the adult dose and it actually comes in a different tube,” said Welch.

He said the state is well-prepared to get the vials of vaccines to doctors and pharmacies.

“I think it probably will take us between 12 and 24 hours to have vaccine in providers’ office ready to vaccinate children,” said Welch.

He said the state set up pre-registration for vaccine orders.

“We’ve already had providers order more than 115,000 doses of pediatric vaccine. We have currently, and we’re getting more every day, more than 375 providers who have ordered vaccine and 105 pharmacies,” Welch stated.

Kline said the number of kids in the 5 to 11 age group is not only large but a big part of the effort to further tame the virus.

“There are 28 million children in the U.S. in that age group, and we know that in that age group the vaccine is better than 90% protective against COVID,” said Kline. “If you stop to think about it, this is the largest pool of unvaccinated people in the United States, 28 million, and not one has had the vaccine because they haven’t been eligible up until now.”

On Tuesday, CDC advisers voted unanimously to recommend Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. Last Friday, the FDA gave the green light for the vaccine’s use in that age group.

Still, Kline knows some parents will be reluctant to have their children get the two shots of the vaccine.

“All of the studies were done meticulously. I’ve looked at the data and I’ve come away very confident that the vaccines are safe and effective for kids in that age group and so when my daughters ask should their kids be vaccinated, I said the day the vaccine becomes available please get them vaccinated,” said Kline.

And, doctors say having kids vaccinated not only provides protection for them but for vulnerable people they may be around.

“If they live with grandma and grandma has an immune problem or is elderly and has underlying medical problems, she will be protected too, and so it’s good for the children, it’s good for their families, it’s good for the community generally,” said Kline.

Kline said the timing of the CDC approval is helpful given the approaching holidays.

“The timing is great, of course, it’s going to take two injections, 21 days apart but if they get the first injection over the next couple of weeks, they’ll have an opportunity to take the second injection before the holidays are here and, hopefully, all of us will have a better holiday season. We can get together and enjoy one another in a way we haven’t in the past year and a half,” said Kline.

Welch said the state has access to all the vaccines it needs for initial vaccine shots for older people as well as for booster shots.

“We are simply ordering vaccines now and getting all of the vaccines that we order without any restrictions,” said Welch.

State Health Officials have developed a consent form for parents to allow their children to get the vaccine.

You can find it at the State Health Department’s website at ldh.la.gov

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