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Nemours among Delaware healthcare providers preparing for approval of children's COVID vaccine

Nemours hospital sign
Delaware Public Media
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Nemours Children's Hospital

COVID vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 are coming in the next couple weeks — and Delaware’s children’s hospital is preparing.

Children haven't been able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine up until now.

The FDA is reviewing a vaccine for kids ages 5-11 this week, and is expected to approve it soon. The vaccine was approved by an FDA advisory panel Tuesday, and now must get approval from the FDA and CDC before healthcare providers can start delivering shots.

President Biden’s framework for rolling out kids’ vaccines includes relying on pediatricians and children’s hospitals.

In Delaware, Nemours Children’s Health is preparing to roll out the modified vaccine through its pediatricians and hospital once approved. Primary Care Division Chief Dr. Jonathan Miller says reliance on family doctors to encourage vaccinations is something they’ve been doing for a while.

“It’s easy to get that early wave of people vaccinated cause they’re self motivated to do it,” he says. “But the folks who are not super interested in the vaccine, if we can get them to see their pediatrician there’s a good chance that the pediatrician can help them come to that decision to vaccinate their child.”

Miller says vaccinating kids should come with even less worry than vaccinating adults. They often experience fewer vaccine side effects than adults, and the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the possible long-term effects from contracting COVID-19.

He says easing restrictions on schools will be a big reason to convince parents to get their kids vaccinated.

“And the truth is all of us want to return to some sense of normalcy,” says Miller. “Like I want to send my 6 year old to school without a mask one day — but that’s never gonna be possible until we get a critical mass of that age group vaccinated. And so I can;’t wait for the next couple weeks until I can get my daughter vaccinated.”

Miller estimates most restrictions of schools probably won't be lifted this school year, but if vaccination rates are high enough, they could be gone next September.

The Pizer vaccine is the one currently under review by the FDA for use in Children, although Moderna recently released data that supports the use of it’s vaccine in those ages 6-11.

Miller says kids should expect to receive the same two dose series that those 12 and older receive.

“The rate of vaccination is the same between adults and kids but the dose is different,” he says. “So all people who are gonna be vaccinating 5-11 are gonna need to stock up on a different product, with a different vaccine and be ready to use that.”

Miller says the amount of vaccine used in children is about a third of the amount given to those 12 and over, so parents looking to get their children vaccinated will need to check ahead of time to make sure their vaccine provider is carrying the pediatric vaccine.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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