CENTRAL TEXAS — It's official: there is now a COVID vaccine approved for kids five to 11, and parents can sign their kids up immediately.
After FDA approval, Pfizer's pediatric vaccine got the green light from the CDC giving kids another level of protection from the virus. The dose is smaller than the adult version and is to be administered in two parts, three weeks apart.
Lara Anton, a senior press officer with the Texas Department of State Health Services, says kids in that age range can greatly benefit from getting a vaccine.
"With the Delta variant, more children were getting sick and being hospitalized, and we want to avoid hospitalizations, severe complications like the Multi Inflammatory Syndrome," said Anton.
22 Texas children between five and 11 have died from COVID. That number is much smaller than other demographics but shows why a vaccine is welcome. It's one reason the McLennan County Public Health District says it's eager to get kids vaccinated.
Kelly Craine, public information officer with the district, does not anticipate their supply to run low but that's not because they predict a slow turnout.
"Our first order was twelve hundred," Craine said. "And of course, we can order when we need to. We can order more at any point. So there's no shortage or waiting."
The DSHS requested over one million doses from the CDC. Those will be sent to healthcare providers across Texas. Some of those vaccines have already arrived and are ready to be used. Questions have been buzzing about when kids will actually be able to get a shot once approval happens, and the answer is today.
"Providers have the clearance to start vaccinating right now," said Anton. "So if they have the pediatric vaccine, they can start vaccinating."
Anton says parents should call ahead to their local providers to check for supplies. The facility where you got your COVID-19 vaccine may not be carrying the pediatric shot. You'll want to check with your pharmacy or pediatrician to see if they received any shipments.
"Right now we have more than 900 providers that are getting the pediatric vaccine," said Anton. "But there are also vaccines coming to the large chain pharmacies directly from the federal government."
Like the adult vaccine, health officials are making accessibility a priority. The McLennan County Public Health District will be sending doses to their mobile clinics and plan to supply their school clinics as well.
The announcement from the CDC means 2.9 million children in Texas will be able to be vaccinated. If you have any questions or concerns about whether or not the shot is right for your child, you are encouraged to talk with your pediatrician first.
As new information regarding vaccine clinics and scheduling becomes available, you can stay tuned to our website for a breakdown.