About 2.9 million Texas children between the ages of 5 and 11 are now eligible for Pfizer’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, after federal health officials signed off on the shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the lower-dose shot for younger kids on Tuesday, just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized it for emergency use. The FDA says the vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in children 5 through 11.
Texas health officials announced the state is set to receive more than 1.3 million doses of the pediatric vaccine over the next week. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the CDC will deliver just over 1 million doses to 900 providers across the state. Another 349,200 doses will be delivered to hundreds of pharmacies through a federal program.
So far, more than 400,000 doses have already arrived in Texas, with another 162,000 expected Wednesday.
“Vaccinating children between the ages of 5 and 11 helps to protect all Texans from COVID-19,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, DSHS commissioner, in a press release.
“Twenty-two Texas children between the ages of 5 and 11 have died from complications of COVID-19 and 118 have been diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. The pediatric vaccine will further help reduce the spread of disease and prevent the rare but serious complications of COVID-19 in this age group,” said Dr. Hellerstedt.
Providers in cities across Texas started immunizing younger kids Wednesday morning.
Dozens of families lined up at the City of Lubbock Health Department’s vaccination hub at 2801 50th St. to get first COVID-19 shots in little arms.
The Health Department has 9,000 pediatric doses of the vaccine and expects to receive more soon. Health Department Director Katherine Wells said those doses will be shared with local pediatrician offices as well.
Wells’ 8-year-old daughter Penelope was first in line for her shot Wednesday. Their family, including 12-year-old Sasha, is now fully vaccinated. It is a relief for Wells.
“Just to be able to have that extra protection and know that she’s not going to get sick, or if she does, it will be mild,” Wells said. “Also, protection for the older individuals in our family. I have a father-in-law who is diabetic. We’ve had to limit how much we see him. This will give us that freedom.”
Sarai Brinker was another Lubbock mom who felt like a weight was lifted off her shoulders Wednesday.
“It’s been a long wait and it’s such a relief,” Brinker said.
The pandemic changed a lot for The Brinkers. Because Lubbock Independent School District did not require masking this year, the family chose to home school 10-year-old Catalina. Brinker said they’ll revisit that decision in five weeks, when Catalina is considered fully inoculated.
“I don’t know if it’s normal, or the new normal, or what lies ahead,” Brinker said. “But it’s definitely a safer future.”
Catalina said she’s looking forward to traveling with her family over the holidays, and in particular, would love to go skiing. Catalina was also the last member of her family to get the shot.
While vaccine eligibility was just expanded for the younger age group, in Lubbock County, 4,875 kids ages 12-15 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Over half of eligible adults in Lubbock are not vaccinated. While active COVID-19 case numbers have decreased in recent weeks, almost 66,000 cases of the disease have been confirmed in Lubbock Count in March 2020.
To find a vaccine provider near you, visit vaccines.gov.
The Texas Newsroom’s Sascha Cordner contributed to this report.
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