Local officials: Kids Pfizer vaccine is safe, effective and in Aspen plentiful | AspenTimes.com

Local officials: Kids Pfizer vaccine is safe, effective and in Aspen plentiful

More than 1,000 pediatric doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will be available at Pitkin County’s five upcoming vaccination clinics for children, a public health official said Thursday.

In addition, appointments for the children’s vaccination clinics at the Aspen Public Schools campus and at Basalt Middle School will be open to any 5-to-11-year-old kids regardless of county of residency or school enrollment, said Carly Senst, vaccine coordinator for Pitkin County Public Health.

“Pitkin County is committed to providing the vaccine to this newly eligible population until everyone who wants it receives it,” according to a slide Senst displayed at a virtual town hall Thursday aimed at parents of area children.

The pediatric dose of the Pfizer vaccine — one-third of the adult dose — was approved for use in 5- to 11-year-olds by the Food and Drug Administration last week and the Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday.

The vaccine is going in to use just as the 5-to-11-year-old age group has logged the highest rate of COVID-19 infection in Pitkin County in the past two weeks, Josh Vance, Pitkin County epidemiologist, said at Thursday’s town hall. That high rate was closely followed by the rate of infection among 0-to-4-year-olds, he said.

Both developments are to be expected because that is the population who has not yet been vaccinated. The high infection rates among those populations are echoed across Colorado and the country, Vance said.

About 4,000 5-to-11-year-olds were included in Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine study, which showed an overall efficacy rate of nearly 91%. The study reported zero cases of vaccinated children with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, myocarditis, facial paralysis or a severe case of COVID-19, Vance said.

The most common side effect was fatigue, followed by headache, muscle pain, chills and fever, Vance said. Symptoms in children appeared less severe than those in the 16-to-25-year-old age group.

Dr. Mary Harris, an Aspen pediatrician, said the Pfizer pediatric dose has been proven safe and effective for children.

“I’m getting my kids the Pfizer (vaccine) next week,” she said Thursday during the town hall.

Dr. Catherine Bernard, an Aspen Valley Hospital emergency physician, said that while COVID-19 presents an increased risk for myocarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle — in children, the risk is significantly decreased by getting the vaccine.

Harris agreed that the risk of myocarditis is much less with the vaccine, and also said the chances of complete recovery if the infection occurs is also much better.

“It’s gonna keep your kid out of Catherine’s hospital,” Harris said.

So far, Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for kids. It’s not clear when or if Moderna will follow suit, and Senst said CDC guidance urges parents to vaccinate kids as soon as possible.

Aspen area pediatric vaccination clinics will begin Nov. 12 at the gymnasium at Aspen High School from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The next two clinics will occur at Basalt Middle School on Nov. 16-17 from 11 a.m to 5 p .m., followed by two more at Aspen Middle School on Nov. 18-19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The clinics at the week of Nov. 15-19 will take place mainly outside, with vaccinations occurring inside one of the state of Colorado buses being used as mobile clinics. No adult vaccination doses will be available at these dates.

Go to https://covid19.pitkincounty.com to make an appointment.

The state is providing more than 1,000 doses for those five clinics, which should accommodate the approximately 900 children between the ages of 5 and 11 who live in Pitkin County, Senst said.

The vaccinations are by appointment only, though a limited number of walkups may be accommodated if there are cancellations, Senst said.

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