AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a matter of weeks, children between the ages of 5 and 11 could be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer is asking federal health regulators to greenlight its shot. Central Texas public health officials are already making plans for it.
Austin Public Health
As far as booster shots go, APH has already worked to expand vaccinations by creating more vaccination sites around the county, as well as continued the focus on its Mobile Vaccination Program, which works to bring vaccinations to communities in the county that have lacked access to health care services in the past.
A spokesperson said, “These efforts, combined with the vaccine being readily available at pharmacies, physician offices, and numerous other places, have worked to remove as many barriers as possible for individuals to receive the vaccine. In short, we are ready.”
As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention work through approving the Pfizer EUA for ages 5-11, APH will continue to ensure resources are available to the most under-served communities when official guidance is received from the CDC and state. The department is encouraging parents to speak with their child’s pediatrician to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Austin Regional Clinic
A spokesperson told KXAN, “We’ll use the same process as for our adult vaccines. We are ready and will vaccinate as quickly as our staffing limitations allow.”
Texas Department of State Health Services
The agency is actively planning for provider engagement on the 5 to 11-year-old vaccine rollout, according to a spokesperson. DSHS is no longer allocating COVID-19 vaccines to providers. The agency also said schools and ISDs enrolled as vaccine providers (along with all other providers in the state) can now order doses directly from the federal government.
Austin Independent School District
AISD officials say the district has vaccine clinics scheduled through the fall 2021 semester. As soon as the providers get all their approvals in order, the district will offer it in the existing, scheduled clinics. District leaders will notify families as soon as they know providers can offer it in their clinics.
Pfizer COVID-19 trial for kids ages 5-11
After going through a COVID-19 vaccine trial, Russell Schultz decided to enroll his 8-year-old son Owen in Pfizer’s trial at Austin Regional Clinic.
“We kept asking, you know, does your arm hurt? You feel tired? And we took his temperature for a solid week afterwards, which was the the protocol, and he didn’t show any signs of anything,” Schultz said.
In the clinical trial, child patients weren’t told if they got the Pfizer vaccine or a placebo. Kids ages 5 to 11 who participated received a two-dose regimen 21 days apart. They got one-third of the dosage used for people ages 12 and up.
The company says the vaccine showed robust neutralizing antibody responses.
“With the pediatric vaccines specifically, they’re also looking at what is the correct dose. And so how did the company evaluate the dosing strategy,” said Chief Medical Officer at ARC Dr. Manish M. Naik.
Dr. Naik says now that Pfizer has requested approval, the FDA will take several weeks to review all the data. On Oct. 26, an outside panel for the FDA will review Pfizer’s data and the impact on children within the study.
Advisers to the CDC will then decide if it’s safe to recommend the shots for that age group, and the final decision will be made by the CDC.