We have all been anxiously awaiting information about when the COVID-19 vaccines will be authorized for younger children. As of this week, the FDA and CDC have recommended the vaccine for the next group of children: 5-11 year olds. PANW has been preparing and tracking this closely for the past few months so we are ready to start providing vaccines very soon now that the official recommendation has been announced.
We have continued to receive lots questions from families who are as eager as we are to get their child vaccinated and protected. Many have been asking how PANW will be vaccinating our 5-11 year olds, where, when appointments will be open, and if the vaccine for younger children is different than the vaccine for patients 12 years and older. In our FAQ below, we ask Dr. Chaffin to answer these important questions for you:
Which COVID-19 vaccine is available to 5-11 year olds?
The COVID-19 vaccine currently authorized by the FDA for 5-11 year olds is the Pfizer vaccine.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine for 5-11 year olds the same as the one for individuals 12 years and older (adolescent/adult version)?
The COVID-19 vaccine for 5-11 year olds is a smaller dose than the adolescent and adult version. This is because vaccine dosing is based on age, not weight. The timing and number of pokes is the same as other age groups: 2 pokes spaced at least 3 weeks apart. Although 5-11 year olds will receive a smaller dose, the vaccine is just as effective as those for individuals 12 years and older. The Emergency Use Authorization sheet provides detailed information about the vaccine.
Should we expect the same side effects for 5-11 year olds?
Yes, side effects for younger children are similar to those we have seen in adults and adolescents. Common side effects include achiness, fever, fatigue, and chills for about 24 hours. These are a good sign that your child’s body is working hard to build its immunity! If your child does not have a reaction, don’t worry, the vaccine is still working. Data from the adolescent age group of 12-16 years olds has shown that children are tolerating the vaccine well and adverse reactions are rare.
Some parents are nervous about the vaccine for younger children. Dr. Chaffin, how do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for young children specifically?
In the clinical trials of 5-11 year olds, the vaccine was 90.7% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. Safety data from more than 3,000 children show vaccine reactions were mild to moderate and no
serious adverse reactions occurred, including myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). Various doses were studied; the lower dosage of 10 µg for children 5-11 years old was very carefully tested and decided on as the preferred dose to ensure safety, tolerability, and effective activation of an immune response. All data was reviewed independently of Pfizer.
Along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, every provider at PANW believes in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and strongly recommend all eligible individuals to get vaccinated. The benefits and protection of the vaccine for children 5-11 years old outweigh the potential risks.
If young children are at lower risk of getting sick, why is it important for them to get their COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 is still spreading rapidly across the country and more children are getting sick from the virus, especially as students have returned to in-person learning. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the #1 most effective way to protect children and stop the spread of the virus. It takes everyone working together to get vaccinated and increase vaccination rates in each community so that the virus doesn’t have a chance to mutate into more variants like the Delta variant. Each new variant increases the risk for everyone and prolongs the pandemic.
How will PANW be providing COVID-19 vaccines for 5-11 year old patients?
We will be holding COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics on Saturdays, beginning November 13th and running through January 8th (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s weekend). Initially, the pediatric doses for 5-11 year olds will be offered only at our Saturday vaccine clinics due to supply. The Oregon Health Authority disperses vaccines to clinics one batch at a time. We will be receiving additional batches and there will be enough vaccines for all our 5-11 year olds. As our supply increases, we will open up in-office appointments. We will notify patients once we are able to offer the 5-11 year old vaccines in the office.
Where will the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics be held?
These Saturday COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics will be held in the building where our Portland office is located- the Montgomery Park building. To accommodate a high volume of patients while maintaining physical distancing, we will be using the large banquet room on the ground floor by the main entrance. Parking is available in the large parking lot off of Vaughn St., on the West side of the building (look for the big fountains). Street parking will also be available. Signs will be posted to help direct families who are not familiar with our Portland office building.
While our Drive-Thru Flu and COVID-19 vaccines for older children were successful, inclement weather is now upon us. A sheltered, indoor space with room to spread out will allow our team to carefully and successfully vaccinate patients without interference from rain and wind. Everyone will be required to wear a mask and stay physically distanced to ensure safety inside.
How many weekends and which dates will these Saturday appointments be available?
We will be offering 6 total Saturdays- 3 to provide first doses, and 3 more to provide second doses of the vaccine. Each weekend, we will have 1,000 appointments available. The schedule below shows options for the 3 weekends we will be giving first doses, and the 3 associated follow-up weekends where will be giving second doses. Patients who receive their first dose from PANW will be guaranteed a second dose, which will be scheduled for you during the first appointment.
November 13th (first doses only) → December 11th (2nd doses only)
November 20th (first doses only) → December 18th (2nd doses only)
December 4th (first doses only) → January 8th (2nd doses only)
***Please note: patients who receive their first dose at our December 4th clinic will have their second dose 5 weeks later, rather than 4 weeks later due to the holiday schedule. Clinically, there is no concern with this. The vaccine will still be as effective when doses are spaced 5 weeks apart.
Who is eligible for an appointment at the Saturday COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics?
All PANW patients ages 5- 11 years old can schedule an appointment at one of our Saturday vaccine clinics. Due to the large number of patients we have who fall within this age range and the different vaccine dosage/concentration for younger children, we are reserving these Saturday vaccine clinics for 5-11 year olds only. We continue to offer appointments for our older patients and household members in the office during the week (call to schedule).
How do I schedule an appointment for one of the Saturday vaccine clinics for 5-11 year olds?
Families can call to schedule a Saturday vaccine clinic appointment for 5-11 year olds. As with COVID-19 vaccines for all other age groups, there is a 15-30 minute waiting period after the vaccine is given. This is so our medical team can monitor patients for any adverse reactions. We recommend accounting for this “medical observation” period when selecting an
Is it safe for patients to get their flu shot at the same time as their COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, it is safe for patients to receive both their flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. It is not necessary to space out the COVID-19 vaccine from any other type of vaccine. At our Saturday COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics, only the COVID-19 vaccine will be available so we can meet the high-volume demand of patients who need their vaccine. If your child would like to receive both the flu and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time, we recommend scheduling a vaccine-only appointment in the office once we are able to offer the COVID-19 vaccine in the office for 5-11 year olds.
If a patient has had COVID-19 or is currently sick with COVID-19, do they still need to get the vaccine? Should they wait a certain amount of time before getting it?
For those who have been infected with COVID-19 in the past, the vaccine is still important and recommended. While the risk of getting sick again is lower the first few months after the initial infection, immunity is temporary and decreases over time.
Children who currently are sick with COVID-19 should wait until they have recovered and are done quarantining. If your child has received passive antibody therapy for treatment of COVID-19, they should wait at least 90 days to be vaccinated. Children who have a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) may choose to get vaccinated, but may delay their vaccine until they have recovered, plus an additional 90 days after diagnosis.
What do I need to do before my appointment?
To ensure that you and others have an efficient appointment, please complete the online registration before arriving. A link to your online registration will be texted/emailed 3 days before the appointment. Please call our office if you do not receive the text/email. We ask that only 1 adult (illness-free) accompany patients to the appointment so we can maintain proper physical distancing.
Where else in the community can families get their COVID-19 vaccine?
We recommend children get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, wherever a vaccine is available first. Outside of PANW, many pharmacies in the area are also able to vaccinate children. Call ahead to verify that your pharmacy is offering vaccines for younger children. Each pharmacy is different.
Visit the Oregon Health Authority’s “Get Vaccinated Oregon” website to find a vaccine site near you.