CHKD says it's ready to distribute Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to ages 5-11 pending CDC approval

Posted at 8:37 AM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-01 08:46:40-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine could be in another group's arms as early as this week, experts say.

On Tuesday, vaccine advisers for the Centers for Disease Control are planning to meet to discuss approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5-11.

Rest assured, Dr. Laura Sass will be one of the millions watching to see what happens.

"We do wholeheartedly believe that this vaccine has great benefits to help end this pandemic and protect our children," Sass, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and CHKD's Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control, told News 3 over a Zoom call on Friday.

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Dr. Laura Sass is Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at CHKD and a pediatric infectious disease specialist.

The CDC's meeting is set to come just days after the FDA gave its emergency use authorization for 5 to 11-year-olds.

To be ready in case it is approved, Sass says CHKD already ordered doses of the Pfizer vaccine for that age group from the Virginia Department of Health, which expressed its support for expanding access last week.

The dose for young children is different than that for ages 12 and up, Sass tells News 3, and has required additional training for hospital nurses to ensure that it's given correctly.

But just how many parents will be taking their kids to get the vaccine immediately remains isn't known. A survey released ahead of the FDA approval by the Kaiser Family Foundation found just 27 percent would get their 5 to 11-year-old children vaccinated "right away" and 30 percent saying "definitely not."

When it comes to questions about access or concerns about the vaccine itself, Dr. Sass says it's always best to start by calling your child's doctor.

"We anticipate, (as) with all immunizations, there's always a discussion about the risk and the benefit," said Dr. Sass. "The best place to start is your pediatrician's office because after all that's what they do."

That said, Dr. Sass says in her expert opinion, anyone who is able to get the shot should get it.

"We had to go through the clinical trials and the processes to make sure it's safe," she told News 3. "We did not want to give children the adult vaccine if it wasn't needed and it turns out, for this Pfizer vaccine, they didn't need the same kind of dose that the adults did."

But the hospital also understands parents will have questions.

CHKD is hosting a Virtual Town Hall on COVID-19 where Dr. Sass and CHKD's Medical Director for Primary Care Practices Dr. Doug Mitchell will discuss facts and myths about the virus and vaccine. It will include a live question and answer portion and is open to all CHKD patients and families.

The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, November 10 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.