Cortland County parents can contact their children’s pediatrician or other healthcare providers to get their children aged 5 to 11 vaccinated against COVID-19, Cortland County Health Department officials said Monday.
The county is also working with schools, although no plans are final.
“We are in conversation with our local pediatric providers and some of our schools as they are currently making plans to support pediatric vaccine availability,” said Lisa Perfetti, Cortland County’s interim public health director. “I am sure we will hear more from them as their plans are finalized.”
The federal Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine Friday for younger children, making it available to 28 million children in America, including thousands in Cortland, Tompkins and Cayuga counties.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still needs to sign off before the doses can be distributed, but its advisory committee is scheduled to meet today. The White House reports that 15 million doses are ready to ship, and enough vaccines to inoculate all 28 million children has been secured.
“Improving vaccination rates continues to be our best defense against COVID-19 and we look forward to being able to have another important segment of our population vaccinated,” Perfetti said.
“Getting children vaccinated against COVID-19 will protect them, as well as their families and grandparents, and bring us all closer to normal life and activities,” said Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “The vaccine has gone through comprehensive and rigorous evaluation demonstrating safety and effectiveness.”
Tompkins County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to be low, Kruppa said, and data show that most of the hospitalizations are unvaccinated individuals.
The children’s vaccine will be one-third the dosage of the vaccine used for 12 years and older, Kruppa said, and will be administered as a two-dose series, about three weeks apart.
Like adults, children can contract and spread the virus and are also at risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19, particularly if they are unvaccinated, reports the state Department of Health.
In the U.S., COVID-19 cases in this age group makeup 39% of cases in kids under 18 years old, reports the FDA.
The pediatric vaccine was approved after months of clinical trials involving about 4,500 children ages 5 to 11. Data shows that Pfizer’s vaccine is almost 91% effective at preventing COVID-19 in that age group, with similar tolerability and antibody responses to that seen in older age groups.
Moderna has expressed plans to submit data to the FDA for review soon, using data provided, in part, by the children of a Guthrie pediatrician.
Dr. Andrea Worley, a pediatrician at Guthrie Corning Centerway, signed her three kids up for the Moderna KidCore COVID-19 vaccine trial.
Six-year-olds Tanner and Sawyer and 8-year-old Colton had little or no side effects, Worley reported. She said her kids were excited to be a part of science and history after learning about the children that took part in polio vaccine trials in the 1950s.
“My husband and I looked at the adult and adolescent data for the vaccine studies prior to making this decision,” Worley wrote in a news release.
“We as a family have not had COVID-19 and it is a high priority that we don’t get it or give it to others who may be at risk. This vaccine is a way to prevent that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.