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November 03, 2021

Philly ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines for young children

The CDC endorsed Pfizer's low-dose vaccine Tuesday night, paving the way for distribution

Philadelphia parents soon will be able to schedule appointments to get young children vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended children ages 5-11 receive Pfizer's low-dose COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday night, allowing distribution and appointment scheduling to begin. 

The White House has procured enough supplies to vaccinate all 28 million children who fall within the age range for the shots.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has ordered more than 20,000 doses and expects to arrange more, acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said in a press briefing Wednesday. In many cases, these doses are being shipped directly to vaccine providers. 

Though some counties are waiting to schedule appointments until all of their clinics and vaccine centers have enough doses, Bettigole said Philadelphia has "instructed our partner clinics to begin vaccinating as soon as they are able to do so." 

Where can children get vaccinated?

"Children can be vaccinated against COVID at any city-run community clinic, most pharmacies, health centers and at many pediatrician's offices," Bettigole said. "Some pediatricians have said they'll call patients to come in when a dose is ready for them."

The city will regularly update its vaccine availability page with dates and times for appointments across the city, Bettigole said.  

Additionally, CVS Health released a statement announcing 1,700 pharmacy locations nationwide have begun scheduling appointments, including 82 in New Jersey and 44 in Pennsylvania. The first appointments are slated for Sunday. Parents can schedule them online.

What's the dose? And what are the side effects?

The dose of Pfizer's child vaccine is 10-micrograms per shot – one-third of the amount given to adults. A second dose is necessary three weeks after the first. 

Side effects include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea. These are similar to the side effects experienced by teenagers and adults who have received the Pfizer vaccine. Other side effects, like anaphylaxis, can occur, although cases are extremely rare.

Any adverse reactions can be reported to the VAERS surveillance database.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and the agency's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices endorsed the vaccine after the committee met Tuesday. 

Walensky briefly addressed the panel Tuesday morning, stressing the importance of childhood vaccines. There have been 1.9 million COVID-19 cases among children ages 5-11 since the start of the pandemic, including 172 deaths.

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