Pediatricians, children’s hospitals and county health departments are making plans as the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine nears emergency use approval for kids ages 12 to 15.
“I don't want to get ahead of the FDA, but I believe it’s gonna be within several days. I cannot imagine it’s gonna be much longer than that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.
At Northwestern Children’s Practice in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, pediatricians have the Pfizer vaccine ready to go in the specialized freezer it requires. Parents can schedule the shots for kids in the approved age group once the FDA and the CDC give the okay.
Dr. Scott Goldstein, a pediatrician at the practice, said parents have been waiting for this.
“They've been asking about it for months, and now more and more every day that we're getting closer to approving it for the 12 and up group,” Goldstein said.
The subzero storage may be a challenge for some pediatricians to offer it in-office.
“I think a lot of parents probably would feel more comfortable getting in their pediatrician's office, but whether you get it at the pediatrician or the pharmacy or health department, I think the shot is the shot at that point,” Goldstein said.
A spokesperson for Cook County Health said administrators at its five locations offering the Pfizer vaccine will welcome children, accompanied by a parent, once the FDA and CDC give the green light. Parents can make appointments and walk-ins will also be welcome.
Chris Hoff, the Director for Community Health Resources in DuPage County, said children ages 12-15, accompanied by a parent, will be accepted at the community vaccination site at the DuPage County Fairgrounds.
“The goal will be to make sure the vaccine is widely available to a group that really should be prioritized for vaccine, especially as we look to school in the fall and reduction in transmission all over the community,” Hoff said.
In a statement, Hannah Goering, spokesperson for the Lake County Health Department, wrote, “We are still working through the details on logistics and are eagerly awaiting this authorization. In addition to offering appointments (with a parent or legal guardian present) at our mass vaccination sites, we are working with area pediatricians and family medicine doctors to help get them set up to offer COVID-19 to their child patients and their families and have over 100 healthcare providers lined up so far.”
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital is now scheduling appointments for ages 16 and up, and will offer appointments to age 12 to 15 once the approval happens.
A spokesperson for Advocate Children’s Hospital said the hospital "will be ready immediately to begin scheduling adolescents 12-15."
"We are currently already doing ages 16-18," the spokesperson said. "Will not have to be Advocate Aurora patients—we will immunize anyone in that age group. We cannot schedule until approval, but parents will be able to go to www.aah.org to schedule, once approved.”
Colette Nesbitt, 12, is eager to get vaccinated, according to her mom, Danielle Nesbitt.
“She really wants to do her part, and to help other people get back to that sort of sense of normalcy,” Nesbitt said. “We will have a conversation with our pediatrician and get her signed up to get vaccinated. I know she’s anxious.”
For parents who have concerns, Goldstein said the information provided from clinical trials has shown the Pfizer vaccine is safe for kids.
“It looks to be a very safe, very effective, you know 100% effectiveness in kids of that age group,” Goldstein said.
Parents who have questions are encouraged to talk to their child’s pediatrician.