This week, the Centers for Disease Control approved vaccinating children as young as five against COVID-19. In Texas, that’s a population of roughly 16 million kids. Some of the first children in the nation got vaccinated at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston early Wednesday, and demand for appointments has skyrocketed since.
Dr. Julie Boom is Texas Children’s Hospital COVID-19 Task Force co-chair. She spoke to the Texas Standard about child vaccination protocol and handling the overwhelming demand from Texas parents.
Texas Standard: What has turnout been like for child COVID-19 vaccinations at your hospital so far?
Dr. Boom: Turnout has been absolutely amazing. We’ve just been really overwhelmed and so excited about the number of kids that have appointments scheduled. We started giving vaccines yesterday morning at 7 a.m. and right now we already have 40,000 children between ages five and 11 who have their appointments scheduled to get vaccinated. So we have been thrilled with the response and just so happy that parents are so anxious to get kids vaccinated and understand the importance of vaccination.
Do you have enough vaccines? Those are some pretty impressive numbers.
We do. We have been working with the state in recent weeks to make sure that when these doses were approved for use, we would be able to vaccinate as many children as we had parents who wanted to get them vaccinated.
What is the COVID-19 vaccine regimen for kids right now?
In the clinical trial, Pfizer started giving children a third of the adult dose- 10 micrograms, three weeks apart, and that is what was found very safe and effective. So that is what was approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC. And that’s what will be given to children across the nation.
I would imagine you would expect those numbers to trickle off – the large numbers that you were mentioning, with people that were lining up to get the vaccine. Do you expect those numbers to remain stable, to increase, to start to decline?
So far, the demand has been very steady. Days ago, we released appointments for Saturday and those literally were gone within hours. We were getting 120 appointment requests per minute. And then once Dr. Walensky [director of the CDC] signed off on the CDC recommendation Tuesday evening, we released additional appointments for Wednesday morning and again, they were gone within hours. So we are thrilled with the response that we’re seeing from parents. It seems that we can’t satiate it right now.
We’ve been reading a lot of news reports about parents who are worried about side effects from the shot. What are you telling them?
As far as side effects go, parents can expect that their children will potentially have some soreness at the site where the vaccine goes in, maybe a little warmth, fatigue, a little headache after vaccination. It seemed that the younger children had symptoms less often than the young adults. Parents really shouldn’t be concerned about these minor symptoms. These are the types of symptoms that will resolve and go away, and this vaccine is hugely important for their overall health and well-being and the well-being of others.
Texas Republican Congressman Chip Roy this morning retweeted a tweet that says “Injecting masses of children with a brand new treatment with no long term data on effects for a disease that isn’t a material, statistical threat to them is unscientific, unprecedented and unethical.”. What would you say to that and similar information that’s been distributed, especially on social media?
This is misinformation that’s being spread by many across the nation, and they should not listen to that. Please follow information from reputable sources like Texas Children’s Hospital and other national organizations to get their information.