Coronavirus: Clark, Champaign health districts prepare for vaccinations for children as young as 6 months

Clark and Champaign Counties health leaders are preparing to vaccinate children as young as 6 months against COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for children 6 months and up, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s advisory committee is expected to make recommendations on Saturday.

Health districts in Clark and Champaign counties have ordered COVID-19 vaccines to administer to their pediatric populations, according to both districts.

The Pfizer vaccine is a three-shot series for 6 months through 4 years. Each dose is one-tenth the adult dose. The first two doses are three weeks apart and the final dose is given two months after the second.

Moderna’s vaccine is a two-shot series for ages 6 months through 5 years. Each dose is one-quarter the adult dose and is given four weeks apart.

The Clark County Combined Health District is making plans to begin scheduling appointments and administering shots as early as next week, according to communications coordinator Nate Smith.

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The health district expects the demand for vaccines in the the 6 months to 5 years age category to fall in line with patterns seen while vaccinating children in the 5-11 age group, meaning a jump in appointments in the days that immediately follow the vaccines’ approval, Smith.

“We’ve had many inquiries from the public about when they can get their 6-month to 5-year-old child vaccinated, and we’re excited to be able to provide that,” said Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson.

Patterson said the health district encourages parents to consult their child’s pediatrician about the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine “so that they’re able to make the best, most informed decision possible.”

Champaign County Health District’s Health Commissioner Gabe Jones confirmed his district has pre-ordered the vaccine and is awaiting approval. He noted that his office has been contacted by interested parents looking to vaccinate their children under the age of 5, but vaccine hesitancy still exists in the county. There are more than 2,000 children under the age of 5 in Champaign County.

Christy Detrick, director of nursing at Rocking Horse Community Health Center in Springfield, said that the health center has heard from multiple families interested in vaccinating their children younger than 5, some of whom have expressed interest in their children getting vaccinated before beginning kindergarten this fall.

Detrick said health care providers at the center have met with the county’s health district and have been training extensively for vaccinating some of the county’s youngest children.

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“We are very excited, and we try to say to [children], ‘Wow, you’re really doing something positive here,’” Detrick said. The health center awards its young patients with gifts of snacks and fidget toys post-immunization.

In Ohio, the bulk of COVID-19 cases reported statewide have fallen in the 0-19 age category, according to the Ohio Department of Health, with more than 500,000 cases reported since the pandemic’s beginning.

“Young children can certainly get COVID, but they can also pass it along to others around them, like their grandparents,” Detrick said.

Children in the 5-11 age group became eligible for the vaccines last fall. Roughly 19% of people in Clark County under the age of 19 have completed their vaccine series, while 13% of people in that age group in Champaign County have completed theirs, according to ODH.

In Clark County, more than 51% of the population has completed its vaccine series as of Friday afternoon, and nearly 43% of Champaign County’s population has completed its series, according to ODH.

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