“For parents all over this country, this is a day of relief and celebration,” he said. “After almost 18 months of anxious worry every time your child had a sniffle or started to cough, well, you can now protect them from this horrible virus.”
Pfizer studies show that its vaccine is 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in kids ages 5 to 11. None of the children who were studied have had any serious side effects, according to Pfizer data posted by the FDA.
The hospital began giving COVID-19 shots to 5- to 11-year-olds at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
The children were welcomed with balloons, stickers, and support dogs to help ease any fears.
James Versalovic, MD, COVID-19 command co-leader and pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, described the atmosphere as “joyful.”
“It's clear that parents are relieved that the day has arrived,” he said. “Just seeing it on their faces, and seeing the children come throughout the day, they are eager as well to get vaccinated. Certainly, we haven’t had to twist any arms.”
The hospital says it has already scheduled nearly 39,000 vaccine appointments for kids ages 5 to 11 from now through Thanksgiving.
Numerous COVID-19 vaccine providers across the country are also preparing to offer shots to this new age group in the coming days.
Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens have also begun scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments for children.
“The arrival of vaccines for kids truly is a landmark moment,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, said at a White House briefing Wednesday.
“Ultimately, we want every child in our country to be saved from COVID and to be able to get back to their lives -- sleepovers and birthday parties, school plays, soccer games, visits with friends and grandparents, and so much more.”
Rollout Will Accelerate
The vaccine rollout will be “fully up and running” early next week, with over 20,000 vaccine providers planning to give shots to this new age group, according to White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.
The White House is taking measures to ensure parents have access to the right information about the new kid-size vaccines.
“We are setting up forums and town halls to answer parent questions, including a town hall this Sunday by dozens of faith communities,” Murthy said. “We're also working with medical groups to encourage doctors to talk to their patients about the vaccine and to appear on local media outlets.”
Murthy also warned parents to watch out for vaccine misinformation floating around online.
“Many parents are already seeing inaccurate claims on social media, text threads, and in their inboxes,” he said.
“I believe every parent has a right to the facts, so they can make decisions for their children based on accurate scientific information,” Murthy said. “I'm asking parents to please seek answers from credible sources -- their doctor, their local hospital, the local health department, or the CDC.”
He noted that he and his wife will be taking their 5-year-old son to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming days.
Staff writer Damian McNamara contributed to this story.