County preparing to administer vaccines to children ages 5 to 11, pending CDC recommendation

by PublicSource intern Amelia Winger

Vaccine providers in Allegheny County are pre-ordering COVID-19 vaccines from the state to prepare for its anticipated approval among children ages 5 to 11, County Health Director Dr. Debra Bogen said at a Wednesday briefing. 

On Tuesday, an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration recommended the authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds after a study showed the vaccine was more than 90% effective in protecting them against the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to make a recommendation on the matter in the coming weeks, and rollout could begin as early as November, the New York Times reported.

Pending the recommendation, vaccines will be available to children ages 5 to 11 in Allegheny County mostly through small clinics and individual appointments. Schools and community-based organizations are planning events to assist in the rollout process. Bogen expects there will be a high demand for vaccines among children in the two weeks following the CDC’s recommendation. 

“After the first week or two, I suspect the rush to lighten and for it to become easier to schedule an appointment,” she added. 

If the CDC recommends the Pfizer vaccine for this age group, Bogen advised parents to research and consider the benefits of having their children get vaccinated. Even though children are at a lower risk than adults for experiencing severe symptoms of COVID-19, the virus is one of the top 10 causes of pediatric deaths nationwide and researchers are unsure of its long-term impact on children’s health. 

In the past week, Allegheny County has reported more than 500 COVID-19 cases among those 18 and younger.

As of Oct. 27, more than 733,000 Allegheny County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with an additional 80,000 partially vaccinated against the virus.

COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County have modestly declined over the past two weeks, with the county reporting more than 300 new cases per day over the past week. This is an indication that cases countywide are plateauing, but not significantly declining, Bogen said. 

The county has reported 105 COVID-related deaths in October so far, most of which Bogen said were preventable.

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PublicSource has been tracking COVID-19’s spread on a daily basis since March 2020. More than a year later, in an effort to direct our resources into enterprise reporting on the pandemic and other important issues, we will cover the Allegheny County Health Department’s weekly briefing on Wednesdays and update the numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We may adjust as the prevalence of the coronavirus ebbs and flows. If you have questions or comments, please email PublicSource’s managing editor halle@publicsource.org.

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