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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 5, 2021
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SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now authorized and recommended for use in children 5 to 11 years old. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility following recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. All groups reviewed data that found the vaccine to be safe and more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in younger children.
The state’s initial pediatric vaccine supply is roughly 315,000 doses, with around 16,000 doses expected here in Snohomish County during this first week and an estimated weekly supply of 6,000-10,000 doses thereafter. With about 75,000 children 5-11 years of age in our county, this means that families trying to secure an appointment for their kids will need to be patient in securing an appointment for their child. Assuming full uptake of the available supply, it may take at least 12 weeks for every child to complete the two-dose series.
The vaccine programs at the Snohomish Health District and the state have been recruiting and working with local providers and pharmacies to prepare for this for several months. The behind the scenes work providers have to do to get their systems up and running mean that it could still be a few more days before appointments appear on vaccine finder, healthcare provider, and chain pharmacy websites.
“Even then, the available supply of vaccine simply won’t allow for every child to get vaccinated right away,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “I know that after waiting so long for this opportunity, many parents are frustrated at not being able to get their child vaccinated right away. Have faith and keep trying every couple of days.”
The allocations during this first week are based on orders requested by vaccine providers in mid- to late-October. If they did not request doses, they will not be receiving vaccines. Final allocations approved by DOH are based on quantities available to the state from the manufacturer, while also ensuring an equitable distribution statewide.
Those approvals are sent to the manufacturer, in this case Pfizer, who ships the vaccines to enrolled vaccine providers or depots. Those providers capable of handling larger quantities typically get a direct shipment. Smaller clinics requesting quantities that are less than minimum order requirements may request vaccines from a local depot. Once shipments from Pfizer are received by the depot, they are split apart and delivered to the smaller clinics.
All of those deliveries are arriving in waves over the first week. In addition, the federal government directly ships vaccines to enrolled tribal clinics and chain pharmacies. It takes a few days before a list of providers, clinics and pharmacies are shared with local health jurisdictions, like the Snohomish Health District.
To help find where vaccines may be available in Snohomish County, the Health District has compiled a list of providers and pharmacies that are expected to receive shipments by November 9. Parents and caregivers can use this to help them navigate which websites and appointment systems to focus on. However, this list is preliminary and deliveries may not have happened yet.
“Keep in mind that many providers want to wait until vaccine supplies are on hand before opening up appointments. Please be patient with them in these early days,” added Dr. Spitters. “We’ve all waited many months for this, and while it’s going to be a bumpy few weeks, we’ll soon get to a rhythm where everyone who wants a vaccine can get one.”
DOH has also updated its Vaccine Locator and to add an option to search for “Pfizer-BioNTech Pediatric” vaccine. If you have questions or need help scheduling an appointment, call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 833-VAX-HELP, or the Snohomish Health District’s call center at 425.339.5278 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Language assistance is available with both numbers.
The Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is administered as a two-dose series, three weeks apart. The pediatric vaccine is a smaller dose (10 micrograms) compared to the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 and older (which is 30 micrograms). Side effects reported in the clinical trial were generally mild to moderate and included sore arm, fatigue, headache, chills, fever, and nausea, with most going away within a day or two. No serious adverse events due to vaccine were observed among over 3,000 children in the clinical trial.
Research shows COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone and that vaccines, even after prior infection, help prevent reinfection. Families with questions are encouraged to visit DOH’s web page VaccinateWA.org/kids for information about vaccines and kids, or to talk to their child’s health care provider.
COVID-19 vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Keeping children safe and healthy is top of mind for parents, and scientists have worked to ensure the vaccine is safe for children ages 5-17. Before being authorized for children, scientists and medical experts completed their review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials of thousands of children. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was rigorously tested and reviewed, and more than 11 million adolescents ages 12-17 have already received the COVID-19 vaccine. Data from trials will continue to be collected for two years after each vaccine is first administered to ensure that they are safe for the long term.
Across the country, COVID-19 cases in children ages 5 to 11 make up nearly 40% of all cases in adolescents 18 and younger. While it is true children often have more mild cases of COVID-19 compared to adults, they can become very sick and may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe. According to the CDC, more than 650 children under the age of 18 have died of COVID-19.
The CDC estimates that for every million children 5-11 years of age vaccinated, the following will be prevented:
Applying those estimates to the 75,000 children of this age in Snohomish County, 100% coverage would prevent 1400-4300 infections, 6-17 hospitalizations, and 3-10 intensive care admissions. Additional benefits include likely reductions in multi-system inflammatory syndrome, deaths, and transmission to others along with greater confidence in return to school and social interactions.
The Ash Way Park & Ride site had to close its vaccine operations on Thursday due to high winds. To help catch up on rescheduled appointments, the site will be open on Tuesday Nov. 9. Those with cancelled appointments were notified and offered the ability to have their appointment moved to Tuesday. The Ash Way Park & Ride will also be offering vaccines only on Wednesday, Nov. 10 and Thursday, Nov. 11.
The site will offer Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, as supplies allow. First, second, third, and booster doses will be available. Appointments are required and can be done online at www.snohd.org/drivethru.
Given concerns for patient safety, the community clinics operated by the Snohomish Health District will not be offering vaccines for those under 12 at this time. Any vaccine appointments made for children under 12 years of age at the Ash Way Park & Ride location will be cancelled.
The testing schedule for next week is as follows:
Appointments for testing are available at www.snohd.org/testing.
Those without internet access, needing language assistance, or requiring additional support in scheduling can reach the Health District’s call center at 425.339.5278 to schedule a testing or vaccine appointment. The call center is staffed 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after hours or on weekends can leave a message, which will be returned on the next business day.