It’s now a waiting game for parents who want to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19 between the ages of 5 and 11.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on November 2-3 to discuss and ultimately make a recommendation to the CDC administration.
While approval seems like a foregone conclusion, there’s not much there is much that parents or vaccine providers can do until approval from federal regulators is in place. But plans are in the works on many fronts to bring the vaccine to those who want it.
“We worked with the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians to encourage vendors to become COVID-19 vaccine providers and to help them prepare to receive and administer vaccines Said Mila Tsagalis, spokeswoman for DuPage County Health. “These partnerships ensure that vaccination sites are available in multiple, convenient, child-friendly locations across the county.”
Q. How long will it take after approval for the vaccine to be available for this age group?
A. Given previous practices, this will likely be done immediately. When the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was approved for children between the ages of 12 and 15 in May, parents were able to schedule appointments the next day.
Q. Will pediatricians be ready?
A. Some pediatricians already have doses of the vaccine on hand for their elderly patients, and many hospital systems have already placed orders for additional doses to have on hand at approval.
“We have placed an initial order for the COVID-19 pediatric vaccine and are taking the necessary steps to vaccinate the pediatric population at the Edward-Elmhurst Health Center in Downers Grove,” said Dr. Michelle Meziere, co-chair of Edward-Elmhurst Health’s COVID-19 incident command.
Q. Should I make an appointment with my child’s pediatrician now?
A. Most pediatricians ask parents to wait for approval before trying to make an appointment. Several suburban pediatricians are also planning to set up special clinics upon approval, similar to how they handle annual flu shots. The families will be notified. However, because the vaccine has specific storage temperature requirements, some pediatricians cannot offer a walk-in service.
Q. Should I wait for my child’s pediatrician to offer it?
A. Most epidemiologists and public health officials say no.
“The Cook County’s Health Department assessment of the capacity of vaccine providers shows that we as a county have an incredibly high capacity to provide a COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who wishes,” said Dr. Jacqueline Korpics, COVID-19 Response Medical Director for the Cook County Health Department.
Health officials are likely to set up special clinics in the suburbs, as well as work with pharmacies and schools to offer vaccinations to anyone who so wishes.
And national pharmacy chains also have the resources to cope with the expected surge in demand.
Q. Are there other location options to have children vaccinated?
A. Many youth-oriented organizations decided in the summer to offer clinics for children who participate in these programs. Interested parents should inquire at park districts, churches or boy scout groups whether a vaccination clinic is available.