Plans for making first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine available for children ages 5-11 in Wilkes County have been announced as a result of federal health officials giving final approval making them eligible.

Two last hurdles for giving the Pfizer vaccine to kids ages 5-11 were cleared on Nov. 2 — a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel’s recommendation supporting expansion of eligibility followed by an endorsement by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the vaccine for children 5 to 11 earlier.

According to a statement posted on the Wilkes County Health Department website on Nov. 3, the health department and Wilkes County Schools are working together to make kid-sized doses of Pfizer available to children ages 5-11 in first-dose clinics on Friday, Nov. 12, and in second dose clinics on Friday, Dec. 10.

One dose of the Pfizer vaccine for a child ages 5-11 is one-third of the dose given to teens and adults, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS). Whether kid-size or full size, two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are needed to be fully vaccinated.

“Wilkes Health does plan to administer pediatric vaccines. However, we are still waiting on final guidance from NC DHHS. We are hopeful we will be able to start 11/4 onsite in our clinic,” continued the statement on the health department website.

The clinics for kids 5-11 on both dates are scheduled from 3:30-6 p.m. at Millers Creek, Mountain View, Ronda-Clingman and Wilkesboro elementary schools, said Wilkes Health Department Director Rachel Willard.

She said the health department has 300 doses of the vaccine and set aside 250 to administer for now. Willard said full-size doses will be available for people 12 and older at the clinics on Nov. 12.

All COVID-19 vaccines are available at no cost to recipients. The health department made booster (third dose) vaccinations available to teachers in a clinic on Nov. 5.

The health department website said parents interested in getting children ages 5-11 vaccinated for COVID-19 should complete a Wilkes school system-based based survey form. A link to this Google survey form is provided on the health department website.

A statement on the survey form said a parent or guardian must be present for a child to receive the vaccine. It says notices will be sent out if the clinics are held at locations other than Millers Creek, Mountain View, Ronda-Clingman or Wilkesboro elementary schools.

The survey form asks for the name of the child to be vaccinated, date of birth, school the child attends and name, email address and phone number of the parent or guardian. It also asks where (at which of the four elementary schools) the child will be vaccinated.

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus that causes COVID-19. We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children (ages 5-11) receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Walensky.

“As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated,” she added.

The action initiated distribution of pediatric vaccinations across the country, with plans to scale up to full capacity the next week. The CDC said vaccines will be available at thousands of pediatric healthcare provider offices, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers (including the Wilkes Health Department) and elsewhere.

DHHS said clinical trials with more than 3,000 children found the kid-size doses of the Pfizer vaccine work and are safe for children ages 5-11. It said side effects are similar to those for older kids and adults: sore arm, headache, and being tired or achy for a day or two.

The agency said children who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine to be more fully protected, but they shouldn’t be vaccinated while they’re sick. Children can get the shot in an arm or leg.

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