Credit: (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
The COVID vaccine for kids under 5 is finally here. But your pediatrician might not carry it
COVID vaccines for kids under age 5 were approved last week in a major development to tackle the pandemic. Health experts are telling parents to contact their pediatricians for a shot. But for many, that’s not an option.
COVID vaccines for kids under age 5 were approved last week in a major development to tackle the pandemic. Health experts are telling parents to contact their pediatricians for a shot, but for many that’s not an option.
Jo Thomas was prepared to get her 8-month old daughter protected against COVID-19 as soon as vaccines became available for her age group. But she was surprised when her daughter’s pediatrician told Thomas they were opting out, saying there isn’t enough interest among parents.
“It's disappointing that some of the major pediatricians in town are just not going to administer it,” Thomas said. “I'm of the opinion that any boost I can give my kid's immune system that's been proven safe … I want my kid to have that.”
Health experts have pointed to pediatricians as major providers for this next vaccine wave, but it's the physician's choice to carry vaccines. Health departments are slowly getting supplies of the vaccine and even though many local pharmacies have vaccines available, state law does not allow pharmacists to administer the shots to kids under 3.
Kelly Knight, nursing director for the South Central health district, said her office is still waiting on its order.
“It's just us being able to properly receive it, working around holiday weekends when our clinics were not open to make sure that the vaccine cold chain was not compromised,” Knight said, alluding to the fact that these vaccine must be kept in cold storage until use.
The neighboring North Central Health District based in Macon is offering Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for kids under 5 as of Monday morning. But NCHD spokesperson Michael Hokanson encourages parents to discuss options with their pediatrician even if they’re not offering it.
“We may have some of your medical records, but a pediatrician that intimately knows your child's medical history will be able to provide a much more specific recommendation than we ever could,” Hokanson said.
Hokanson said he’s not surprised some pediatricians are hesitant to offer the vaccines. According to a nationwide poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation in April, only 18% of parents said they wanted to get their child under 5 vaccinated “right away,” compared to about 40% who said they prefer to wait.
Thomas, a bioengineering professor at Mercer University, doesn’t want to wait. She wants her daughter prepared to go to day care in the fall.
“That’s really where you don’t have control over the situation at all,” Thomas said.