Utah doctors prepared to start vaccinating children as soon as CDC approves

Oct 26, 2021, 11:39 PM | Updated: Oct 27, 2021, 11:01 am

SALT LAKE CITY — Young children are one step closer to being armed with protection against COVID-19. 

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted Tuesday that the benefits far outweigh the risks, recommending shots be given to children ages 5 to 11.

FDA panel backs Pfizer’s low-dose COVID-19 vaccine for kids

So what does that mean for children in that age group here in Utah?

We are still waiting for that final approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the recommendation is something the Utah Department of Health has been anticipating.

In fact, a press conference was held Tuesday afternoon.

But, the FDA advisory panel’s recommendation is only step one in a four-step process before children ages 5 to 11 can get vaccinated.

Even still, when that final step happens, as is expected, Utah leaders want to be ready.

“Many of you have heard the myth — that is absolutely 100% false — that kids aren’t severely affected by COVID,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at University of Utah Health.

Doctors with Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah Health talked about the FDA approval for children Tuesday and how the plan now goes to the CDC and why they feel vaccinating children ages 5 to 11 is a good idea.

“The good news is that, with this lower dose that we use for kids, the incidents of fever and chills was substantially lower than it is with adults, but it still happens and it’s still something we have to deal with,” said Pavia.

In Utah, there are about 365,000 children who are 5- to 11-years-old who will be eligible for the pediatric version of the COVID vaccine.

The state has already ordered 109,000 of those doses, which will be shipped to health providers across the state beginning Friday, Oct. 29.

“These Pfizer pediatric vaccine doses is packaged in a different concentration,” said Rich Lakin, immunization director with the Utah Department of Health. “So, pediatric doses are ten micrograms, as compared to the adult doses, which are 30 micrograms.”

You also just can’t take a smaller dosage of the adult vaccine because of the different concentration levels.

We also asked Lakin about the willingness in Utah for parents to have their children vaccinated, following the most recent age group — 12 to 18 — which currently stands at 61% receiving at least one dose.

“The response to that age group was surprisingly pretty good,” he said. “It started out slow and it gradually increased, so our anticipation is that the 5- to 11-year-olds will probably follow that same pattern.”

If everything is approved as expected, Utah children could begin getting the vaccine within the next couple of weeks.

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Utah doctors prepared to start vaccinating children as soon as CDC approves