Louisiana orders 148K COVID vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11; pediatricians prepare to receive it | Coronavirus
A long-awaited moment for some Louisiana families may soon arrive: Authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is one step closer after a Food & Drug Administration advisory committee voted to make it available to that age group. orders on Tuesday.
“We could offer children a vaccine within one to two weeks,” said Dr. Louisiana state health officer Joe Kanter at a news conference on Tuesday. “That’s very, very exciting.”
Louisiana has ordered 148,000 starting doses for the 421,000 children in that age group in the state, Kanter said.
While there are still several steps before the vaccine is fully approved, health care providers in Louisiana are already answering questions from parents and preparing to receive it.
“We know that kids are used to getting vaccines in the pediatrician,” says Dr. Christina Cannizzaro, a pediatrician at Ochsner Health in New Orleans. “The families are at ease there. It’s easy and accessible.”
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Before the vaccines are shipped to Louisiana, a few groups still need to sign it. The FDA will decide in the coming days whether to follow the commission’s recommendation. The FDA is not bound by the commission’s decision, but usually follows it and is likely to issue an authorization.
A committee from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will then review the request on Nov. 2-3. If that committee votes to recommend the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 and follows CDC director Rochelle Wolensky, the vaccine could be available next week.
But the process of vaccinating Louisiana’s 413,000 children, ages 5 to 11, is a different logistical process than vaccinating adults, so providers are adjusting how best to get it to this group. Five-year-olds might not fare as well with a drive-thru shot as a teen would, Cannizzaro noted.
Also, pulling the syringe out of the vial and adding saline to each dose is different than the adult vaccine providers have become accustomed to.
“The Pfizer for adults has a different composition than the Pfizer for children,” said Matthew Malachowski, Ochsner’s pharmacy director. “We want to make sure every pharmacist feels comfortable and confident.”
The injection for children aged 5 to 11 years is one third of the dose that adults receive and requires normal refrigeration. Pfizer has said the packaging for the children’s version is different, including a different colored cap, which will prevent mix-ups with adult doses.
Ochsner, the state’s largest health care provider, also has plans in the works for larger events and extended hours, including weekends, to help vaccinate children beyond their regular annual checkups.
Schools can also be a site for vaccinations. The New Orleans Department of Health has partnered with NOLA Public Schools to schedule parent and children’s hospital meetings. doctor.
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Children’s Hospital New Orleans will provide the pediatric vaccines on Saturday to everyone in the age group 5 to 11, regardless of patient status. Parents can schedule online at chnola.org. Children’s Hospital patients can call their regular pediatrician or healthcare provider or go online to schedule admission at any time.
At first, the question might remind people of the frenzy that followed the adult authorization, public health experts predicted, especially in places where adults were clamoring for the vaccine.
“For the people who want it, they’ll want it once it’s approved,” said Susan Hassig, an epidemiologist at Tulane University. “It’s going to be part two of the Hunger Games all over again to get some kids vaccinated.”
But like adult vaccinations, bigger cities can make more use of children. In general, parents are likely to have their children vaccinated if they have been vaccinated themselves, Hassig said.
“We’re going to see a huge benefit in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and maybe to a lesser extent Lafayette because those urban areas have the highest vaccination rates,” Hassig said.
In many areas, however, there may be little enthusiasm for a vaccine for children. Uptake among children ages 12 to 17 was low — according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 40% in Louisiana have received at least one dose compared to nearly 60% nationwide.
“Will there be people who say, ‘Hell no, no way’? Yes, absolutely, and probably way too much,” Hassig said. But children could bring the state closer to a herd-immunity status that would protect the most vulnerable, said Hassig.
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The FDA has said the benefits of the vaccine “clearly outweigh the risk” of myocarditis, a vaccine-related side effect of the heart. Children typically do better than adults with COVID-19, but many have been hospitalized and 18 children in Louisiana have died from COVID-19, nine of them during the fourth wave. Since mid-August, there have been more cases in 5- to 17-year-olds than any other age group.
“There is no doubt that a child’s risk of COVID is not that great for someone 70 years old,” Kanter said. “But it’s still important. It’s important for their families.”
If authorities sign in the coming week, the vaccine will be dispensed for 5- to 11-year-olds under the emergency use license, although it is fully approved for children 16 and older. That will make it “really, really tricky” to require it for young children in schools, like many other vaccines, Hassig said.
Still, it’s a relief for parents like Cannizzaro, who shares her own plans when patients ask her for advice.
“I have three children in this age group, ages 5 to 11, and all three of them will get the vaccine as soon as it’s available,” Cannizzaro said. “I believe it is safe, I believe it has gone through the right processes. I believe this is what we need to do to move forward to get global immunity or herd immunity.”
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