TAMPA, Fla. - Pharmacies across the Bay Area are preparing to offer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 5 years old after the CDC gave its approval this week.
Select major pharmacies, including Publix, Walgreens and CVS are accepting appointments and are expected to start administering the vaccine this weekend.
"That opens up like 28 million children to access to the vaccine," said Dr. Simarta Brennan-Prescod, a physician with Optum Northeast Primary Care in St. Petersburg. "[This is] an incredible day, mostly because in the fight to end this pandemic we really want to reduce that risk and [the vaccines for young children] are going to play a key role. We want to reduce the risk of severe disease.
We want to make sure we reduce the risk of hospitalization and reduce the risk of long-term complications. Fighting the pandemic with COVID is multifactorial and this is one more piece that's really going to make a difference in our journey."
According to the drugmaker, the dose for children ages 5-11, which is one-third the size of the adult dose, is more than 90 percent effective against COVID-19.
Dr. Brennan-Prescod said some parents are asking questions about side effects, including myocarditis, which is a very rare heart inflammation.
"What you're going to see is less side effect profile related to it [because of the smaller dose]. So the sore arm is a common one, a little bit of fatigue," said Dr. Brennan-Prescod. "We know COVID infection has a greater risk of complications and long-term problems."
A lot of parents and grandparents view this news as the next major step in getting back to normal.
"I think it's great. It will protect the children," said Mary Maschal, a grandparent in Tampa. "We've seen it with adults. We've seen it with young people, 18 [and older]. I have a brother-in-law who died from COVID. His sister died from COVID. I'm an advocate of [getting kids vaccinated].
"I think it's great that, you know, finally, we have a solution for them," added Ed Scott, a parent of 6-year-old twins. "Hopefully before the holidays or right after the holidays, we can get it done."
President Biden stated the vaccine's approval.
"Over the last several weeks, my administration has been working hard to be prepared for this moment. We are ready to act," he said. "We have already secured enough vaccine supply for every child in America, and over the past weekend, we began the process of packing and shipping out millions of pediatric vaccine doses. These doses — specially designed for these younger children — have started to arrive at thousands of locations across the country."
"A vaccine for children age 5 to 11 will allow us to build on the extraordinary progress we’ve made over the last nine months," he continued.
By vaccinating children, doctors are hoping to limit the spread to the holiday season, which saw a spike in COVID-19 cases last year.