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Coronavirus vaccinations for children expected soon

by KAYE THORNBRUGH, Hagadone News Network
| October 28, 2021 1:05 AM

Health officials in Washington said Wednesday they’re expecting doses of child-sized COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in the state next week.

Vaccine advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted this week to recommend emergency use authorization of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.

Kids in that age group will receive one-third of the adult dose. Pfizer-BioNTech said clinical trials showed the lower dose protected children well against symptomatic infection.

If the U.S. Centers for Disease Control signs off on an endorsement, kids across the country could begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations in early November.

Michele Roberts, the state Department of Health’s acting assistant secretary, said Washington has been allocated about 230,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. An additional 86,000 doses are expected to arrive at pharmacies through the federal pharmacy program.

About 680,000 children likely are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Roberts said national polls indicate that about 30% of parents will initially come forward to have their children vaccinated.

“Our doses are tracking to that number,” she said.

Lacy Fehrenbach, the deputy secretary for the Department of Health’s COVID-19 response, said a total of 189 COVID-19 outbreaks were reported in Washington schools between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30. More than 1,200 cases were associated with those outbreaks and 88% were among students ages 19 and younger.

Fehrenbach noted her own children will be vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible.

Unvaccinated children are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, she said, particularly when groups of people come together for different activities.

“Kids who are not vaccinated are not yet protected in the way those of us who are adults are,” she said.

As of this week, about 78% of people age 12 and older in Washington state have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Approximately 72% of Washingtonians are fully vaccinated.

More than 634,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Washington state. A total of 8,511 people in Washington have died due to COVID-19.