Health Providers Have Started Vaccinating Children 5 to 11: What Columbus Residents Should Know
Federal health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recently gave the go-ahead for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, and pediatricians and health providers nationwide have begun the vaccination process.
Children have felt many of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic—including interruptions to their education and an escalating mental health crisis. Not to mention the direct effects, including a loss of parents and relatives, as well as the 8,300 hospitalizations and 94 deaths in this age group from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Now, with the expanded eligibility of the COVID-19 vaccine, some 28 million children in the U.S. can be better protected against COVID-19.
In Columbus, many of the same providers vaccinating adults are now vaccinating children, including local health departments, pediatricians, family physicians, community health centers, adult and children’s hospitals, and pharmacies. To find a vaccine location, you can visit gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, some OhioHealth clinics, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Columbus Public Health are all currently vaccinating people 5 years old and up. Check with each provider as some require an appointment and will not accept walk-ins.
Below are a few frequently asked questions in the relation to children and the vaccine.
Q: Is there any difference between the adult vaccines and the vaccines for children?
A: The pediatric vaccine is one-third the dosage of the adolescent and adult doses. In clinical trials, the pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, identical to the efficacy of the adult version.
Another difference is in what is called a “buffer,” which is a solution that helps the vaccine maintain proper pH. Pfizer switched to using tromethamine, as will future adult versions of the vaccine. The new buffer increases the stability of the vaccine.
As far as administration, smaller needles are used to vaccinate children than what are used to vaccinate adults.
Q: Are the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson pediatric vaccines coming?
A: So far, children 17 and younger are only eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Moderna has released the results of clinical trials for its vaccine for children 6 to 11 and 12 to 17, with data from the older age group already submitted to the FDA for authorization. But that may not come until next year. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson has started clinical trials of its vaccine for adolescents but has not begun testing for children under 12.
Q: When will children under five be eligible?
A: According to multiple outlets, vaccine trials for children under five are currently underway, under supervision by the FDA. It’s estimated that the coronavirus vaccine will be available to children 6 months to 5 years old as soon as early 2022.
For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.