Nearly all Arizona children ages 5 to 11 are vaccinated against measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, rubella, mumps, polio, and other diseases that have been eliminated or all but eliminated thanks to modern medicine.
Soon, COVID-19 will become the next disease with a safe and highly effective vaccine available to children in this age group. In addition, the COVID-19 vaccine is free to all who are eligible.
As the federal government moves toward approval of a lower-dose Pfizer vaccine for those ages 5 to 11, leaders today announced plans for the rollout, pending regulatory approval.
Arizona stands ready to vaccinate them.
I’ll provide some details on that below. But first, here’s why it’s important to get your child vaccinated against COVID-19:
- Severe illness, hospitalization, and death are indeed rare among children, but there are cases in which otherwise healthy kids get extremely sick. Sadly, 40 individuals under the age of 20 have died of COVID-19 in AZ this year, while nearly 3,000 younger than 20 have been hospitalized. In rare cases, children infected with COVID-19 have developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a potentially deadly condition that can be treated.
- As with colds and influenza, children are effective spreaders of disease to each other and to people who are more vulnerable, including higher-risk youth and adults who either aren’t vaccinated or could develop a rare breakthrough case of COVID-19.
- With more than 600,000 children in this age group added to those eligible for vaccination, we can move Arizona even closer to herd immunity against COVID-19.
- COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and highly effective, with nearly 400,000 individuals ages 12-19 already vaccinated in Arizona. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a study this week that found the Pfizer vaccine extremely effective at preventing hospitalization among those ages 12-18 and also at preventing serious outcomes among those who are hospitalized.
ADHS and local health jurisdictions have worked extensively to ensure capacity in Arizona for pediatric COVID-19 vaccination. This includes recruiting additional pediatric providers to be vaccinators, working with schools and local healthcare providers to identify easily accessible locations for vaccinations, engaging our health equity partners to ensure plans consider access and vaccination capacity for underserved communities, and developing communication materials for healthcare providers and the public.
I’m sure the biggest questions parents have are when and where. Here’s what we know:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised jurisdictions to be ready to vaccinate children ages 5-11 soon after its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meets Nov. 2-3, which follows review by a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meeting scheduled for Oct. 26.
- While there may be a special vaccination clinic in your area or at a local school, many parents will be able to visit doctors’ offices, pediatricians, community health clinics, or retail pharmacies. Arizona has more than 900 providers onboarded to administer pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations in addition to retail pharmacies.
- When the rollout for ages 5-11 begins, you will be able to filter our Vaccine Finder at azdhs.gov/findvaccine for pediatric vaccine providers, as you now can do for providers offering specific vaccines.
Initial Pfizer doses for ages 5-11 will be allocated to states based on population by CDC. Because of that, ADHS will need to allocate set amounts of vaccine to local jurisdictions based on their pediatric population, which in turn will allocate to providers that can vaccinate the age 5-11 population in their areas. We have been told to expect an initial allocation of 224,700 pediatric doses and expect many more doses to begin arriving soon after the CDC issues its recommendation.
This is a lot of information, but the goal is simple: Kids already benefit from all kinds of safe and effective vaccines, and adding COVID-19 vaccination to the mix helps keep children, their families, their friends, and their communities safe.
If you have questions about whether COVID-19 vaccination is right for your child, I strongly encourage you to consult your healthcare provider and get your kids vaccinated as soon as you can. Find more information as it becomes available on our website at azdhs.gov/COVID19vaccines.