The US begins vaccinating young children against Covid


The US begins vaccinating young children against Covid

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Eighteen months after a New York nurse received the first U.S. coronavirus shot, vaccines became available Tuesday for millions of children ages 6 months to 5 years, the latest group of Americans to receive that protection.

Pediatricians, pharmacies, hospitals and community immunization centers began giving children the first doses of two vaccines: the Pfizer-BioNTech product for children ages 6 months to 4 years; and the Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years.

Some parents rushed to get the vaccine early Tuesday morning. In Washington, DC, Chinmay Hegde’s 14-month-old daughter Ada became the first child to receive an injection at Children’s National Hospital Tuesday morning. She flinched as the needle went in, but it wasn’t as bad as her routine vaccinations.

“The last time we came here, she got five shots on the same day,” Hegde said. “I think because of the fact that there was only one, she said, ‘Oh great, good deal.’ ”

At a city-run Covid center on U Street, a line of parents and prams snaked around the corner while Asia Perazich waited with her 3-year-old son Mica and 1-year-old daughter Zia.

“I wish it had happened sooner,” Perazich said while Mica doodled in a watercolor book. “It will be nice to be able to take her to a restaurant without worrying.”

In Houston, Jim Versalovic, chief pathologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, said, “We started vaccinating the first children at 6 a.m. We have gunshots now. We have hundreds of children waiting in line and our goal is to get this vaccine to thousands of children in the greater Houston and Texas area.

“Kids do it just as well or better than adults,” he added.

Speaking at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, President Biden called the development, which will affect up to 19 million children nationwide, “a very historic milestone, a monumental step forward.” He said the United States is now the first nation to offer a vaccine to children as young as six months old and urged parents to get their children vaccinated. Biden previously visited a city-run coronavirus center that offered vaccines to children.

Chicago’s Nancy Wyss said she made an appointment to have her 3-year-old daughter vaccinated next week. Wyss said she has been waiting for this moment for her daughter’s “health and protection” so that the family can feel more secure visiting the girl’s grandparents.

Wyss said the vaccine will also help “my own mental health.” Wyss said her daughter’s daycare is currently closed if a child or teacher falls ill with coronavirus. Once the children are vaccinated, they keep the center open if there is a case. The vaccine will also take away Wyss’ fear of flying.

“We are going on a trip in early August so we feel more comfortable flying with her and seeing her grandparents. It is exciting. We’ve waited a long time,” she said.

For parents who have been Eager to get their children vaccinated, Tuesday marked the end of a long, difficult period in which babies, toddlers and preschoolers did not have access to vaccines that have proven extremely effective in keeping deaths and hospitalizations for the rest of the world prevent population.

However, a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor released in May found that they represent a clear minority. Eighteen percent of parents with children under the age of 5 said they were anxious to get their children vaccinated immediately. More than a third of parents – 38 per cent – said they saw how the vaccine worked in other children and 27 per cent said they would “definitely not” have their children vaccinated. Eleven percent said they do so when necessary.

The survey was conducted before the Food and Drug Administration determined the vaccines were safe and effective for the youngest children, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave them the green light on Saturday.

In some places there was a rush for appointments at first. “It’s really only been about 24 hours since the vaccine was delivered and our call center has been inundated with calls to get this vaccine,” said Mary Zimmerman, a registered nurse and immunization specialist at Spectrum Health in Michigan.

New York experienced a one-day delay while vaccine sites awaited final approval from the state Department of Health. Matthew Harris, a pediatric emergency room physician at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens and medical director of the coronavirus vaccine program at Northwell Health, said immunizations for children under the age of 5 in New York City were expected to begin Wednesday.

Florida, which refused to pre-order the vaccine until Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)’s administration backed down and allowed doctors to request it on Friday, is expected to see no immunizations by the end of this week, according to the Health Department. The state government, which does not recommend the vaccine for healthy children, was the only one in the country not to pre-order the vaccine.

Biden said Tuesday that “elected officials shouldn’t stand in the way and make it harder” for parents who want to see their children vaccinated. “Now is no time for politics”

About 13.5 million children have tested positive for the virus, giving them some protection against it, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The number is even higher, according to federal health data analyzing blood tests — by the end of February it showed 3 out of 4 children nationwide had been infected with the coronavirus.

Follow-up of coronavirus cases

However, health officials say all children should be vaccinated as it is the best way to give children lasting protection and reduce the chance of further infection and complications.

Children are less likely to become seriously ill with the virus than other people in other age groups, but they are not invulnerable. More than 1,000 have died, more than 40,000 have been hospitalized and more than 8,500 have suffered from a condition called childhood multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), which causes inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, eyes and kidneys other organs, according to the CDC.

Houston’s mother, Brittany Kruger, said Tuesday that she will not have her children vaccinated.

“My kids had Covid and the only reason we knew is because we had it. So we tested them. They showed no symptoms, similar to most children we know,” she said. “I feel my children are at very low risk of side effects from Covid at their age. In fact, I’m more afraid of what a record that’s new on the market would do in the long run.”

But Amisha Vakil, who has three-year-old twins Jiyan and Kian, one of whom is at high risk of awaiting a heart transplant, was at Texas Children’s at 6:30 a.m. to get both children vaccinated.

“Having my two children vaccinated today means a lot to us, especially giving Jiyan this shield, which is a small piece of armor,” she said.

“We’ve pretty much been in quarantine for two years,” she added. “We couldn’t send them to preschool or other activities. Kian also stayed at home because maybe he could bring something home.”

Tracking of the coronavirus vaccine

Nearly 67 percent of the US population is vaccinated — a proportion that has barely increased in recent months despite efforts by state and private health officials. The virus has killed more than 1 million Americans, the largest known total of any nation in the world.

At Seattle Children’s Hospital, parents and their children stood in front of the vaccination room for 15 minutes. Some children had barely said their first words, and others were scurrying restlessly up and down the corridors. The hospital was prepared; Seattle Storm mascot Doppler came to offer kids a 7-foot, red-and-yellow, shaggy distraction.

Erin Murphy, who was in hospital with her 3-year-old son, said Covid protections prevented him from attending his great-grandfather’s funeral and he stayed at home with his father. Now the boy joined his family to get vaccinated and has documentary evidence to back it up.

“Everyone got a photo when they got vaccinated and now they have their own,” Murphy said.

Edwin Lindo, who teaches critical race theory at the University of Washington School of Medicine, was among the first in line and sees vaccinating his two young children as a step against the injustices exposed by the pandemic. When his 8-month-old son got infected two months ago, “it was scary,” he said. Lindo took the baby to hospital while he was ill – and brought him back on Tuesday to be vaccinated.

“This is our way of fighting and saying we will not be the product of the legacy of racism, we will not succumb to statistics. We will live another day to fight so we can actually change the outcomes of our community,” Lindo said.

Mark Del Beccaro, deputy assistant chief of the coronavirus testing and immunization programs at the Seattle and King County Health Department, said he expects immunizations for young children to increase over the next month and then fall as more families hesitate about the impact on younger children . King County is among the best vaccinated counties in the United States.

“It’s a great time to be vaccinated so people can worry less about family reunions and, just as importantly, be prepared for the fall when everyone will be herded back indoors,” Del Beccaro said.

Katie Shepherd in Washington, Mark Guarino in Chicago, Ken Hoffman in Houston, Barbara Liston in Orlando, Ian Morse in Seattle, and Jack Wright in New York contributed to this report.

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