There have been many calls and questions this week about the highly anticipated use of the Covid-19 vaccine in 5 to 11 year old children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently met and unanimously approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for emergency use for this age group. A lower (10 mcg) dose of the vaccine was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 through 11, with immune responses comparable to those of individuals 16 through 25 years of age. The vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children with no serious side effects detected.
Next up, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet on November 2nd to consider a recommendation for its use in this age group. Formal recommendations from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are likely to follow immediately. Primary care providers such as our office are intended to have a significant role in administration of the vaccine in a 2 dose series, 3 weeks apart.
Our office has already partnered with the Maryland Department of Health has been administering the Pfizer Covid vaccine to our patients 12 years and older. Once the vaccine is formally recommended, we hope to receive an allocation from the state quickly. The FDA has authorized a manufacturing change for the vaccine using a different buffer, and it will be packaged differently, so we cannot use our current vaccine stock to immunize younger patients.
We anticipate that the demand for vaccination appointments will be high, but we are asking for your patience and flexibility in scheduling. Not everyone can be first! We cannot schedule any appointments until we have the vaccine in hand, which may take a week or more after formal recommendations for use are in place. Please check our website and Facebook page for availability before calling when possible. Feel free to obtain your child’s first dose at a school or retail based clinic if it is more convenient.
We understand that not all families are comfortable making decisions about Covid-19 vaccines for their younger children just yet. Please call our office to speak to your primary provider with any questions or concerns.