A health care worker injects a boy with a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, during a vaccination drive for children between the ages of 12-17, in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021.
COVID-19 vaccine providers in Houston are preparing for the green light to vaccinate kids, after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel Tuesday recommended the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could follow suit as early as next week.
Public health advocates in Houston say once final approval is given, it will be up to more than just pediatricians and children’s health clinics to get local children vaccinated — it will also be vital to address vaccine hesitancy in parents, and to make sure doses are accessible in hard-to-reach communities.
“Essentially the same kinds of barriers we saw in getting adults vaccinated, we’ll see with kids, plus some because they’re kids and people are more likely to be more protective of them,” said Elena Marks, president of the Houston based Episcopal Health Foundation.
A number of community groups are already working with vulnerable populations, and talking to parents about the importance of getting kids vaccinated, Marks said.
The Texas Department of State Health Services announced this week it’s preparing for the vaccine’s approval. The agency preordered 1.3 million doses to be administered in three waves statewide. There are more than 2.9 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 in Texas.
Over the summer, pediatric hospitalizations reached record highs, as the COVID-19 delta variant spread throughout Houston and across Texas. At its highest point, DSHS reported nearly 350 kids hospitalized across the state. Houston ISD, the state’s largest school district, has seen 3,255 total cases since the beginning of the school year, according to data reported by HISD.
COVID-19 is the eighth-highest cause of death for children in that age group over the last year, according to FDA advisor Dr. Amanda Cohn.
The summer surge led teachers, parents and advocates have called for mask implementation in schools to limit the spread of the disease and to ensure in-person learning is safe. But Gov. Greg Abott has banned cities and local governments — including school districts — from imposing mandates.
Dozens of school districts across Texas have defied that order, challenging the governor in court.
While kids are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19, children’s normal habits still make it likely that the virus will spread among younger populations — especially after the more-contagious …….