Health

How will Austin vaccinate young children when the Pfizer shot is ready?

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Public Health shared its plan for vaccinating young children against COVID-19 Tuesday.

APH Interim Director Adrienne Stirrup says as soon as Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages five to 11 is granted Emergency Use Authorization and the lower doses of the vaccine are doled out, local leaders will be ready to administer them. APH officials believe that will be sometime next week.

Stirrup says APH will administer vaccines to young children at the Old Sims Elementary School, the Delco Center and Shots For Tots’ two Austin locations, on Stassney Lane in south Austin and the St. John’s area in northeast Austin.

APH says it will only provide child-size doses of the Pfizer vaccine at those four locations at first, but will later expand its offerings through pop-up clinics in neighborhoods with limited access, once child-sized vaccine distribution is more widespread.

“Once we get into the flow and we’re getting regular deliveries, and we imagine that will be the following week of the [November] 15th, we will continue with our four static sites and add school pop-up sites in areas that have limited access points,” Stirrup explained to Travis County Commissioners and Austin City Council members in a joint briefing Tuesday.

APH says individual schools are also making plans to offer vaccine clinics. While some will host them in partnership with APH, some schools may host them on their own.

In addition to schools and the four main APH distribution sites, health officials are reminding parents with insurance that they may also get their small children vaccinated at pharmacies and pediatricians’ offices.

“This is going to be a very different operation from adult vaccines. There are a lot of things we have to take into consideration,” Stirrup told local leaders.

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Stirrup explained that health officials are working to ensure that the environments in which kids will be vaccinated are comfortable and make for the best experience for children. She says APH is also working on figuring out appropriate ways to give kids rewards once they receive the shot.

“It’s not a one and done. They have to come back and get another shot, and this experience could really tarnish their approach about the doctor or anything,” Stirrup said of families who will be getting their kids vaccinated. “So we’re really taking great care to make sure we not only have the right staff, we have the right environment, we have the right process and we have the right prizes to reward those kiddos for being brave and getting that shot.”

Kathy Cavin, the Registered Nurse Supervisor of Shots for Tots says her team has hired extra nurses and is working on training them and making preparations to increase capacity once the shot is authorized. She expects demand to be high at first.

“A lot of the parents that are coming to us to get their 12-year-olds, they’re like, ‘When is it going to come for the younger ones?’ And we’re like, ‘Just hold on, we’ll let you know.’ So I know that there are a lot of people who are really just chomping at the bit to get their kids immunized.”

Written by Jacqulyn Powell

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