Local health leaders discuss importance of COVID-19 vaccines for children and address common concerns

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Local health officials are proactive and preparing for the day when children aged 5 to 11 can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

In Thursday’s COVID-19 press conference, Monica Hendrickson, the City and County of Peoria public health administrator, said the area’s hospital systems, federally qualified health centers and services local health officials had previously pre-ordered Pfizer pediatric vaccines.

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommended the Pfizer vaccine for use in ages 5 to 11. Hendrickson said this was just the start of the process.

“This is again the first step in a multi-step process before we can put this vaccine in the arms of our children aged 5 to 11,” said Hendrickson.

She said the next step would be for the FDA to issue an emergency use authorization for the vaccine, then go to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to make its recommendation next week, and finally the director. of the CDC would review it and make its recommendation.

“It can be a really quick turnaround once the news comes in,” Hendrickson said.

Dr. Nora Philbin, associate medical director of pediatrics at UnityPoint Health, spoke about the importance of the vaccine for children. She gave some figures on the impact of the virus on the country’s children.

“Even in the past six weeks alone, we’ve had 1.1 million children diagnosed with COVID-19 infection,” Philbin said.

She said more than 150 children who died from COVID-19 were between 5 and 11 years old.

Philbin also responded to common questions she has received from parents regarding the vaccine for children, including concerns that the vaccine has been rushed and the technology is too new.

“I just want to point out to everyone that there were no shortcuts to making these vaccines, and it was a collaboration of scientists from all over the world and a great deal of teamwork, energy and dedication. ‘impetus to have these vaccines manufactured,’ said Philbin. . “The mRNA vaccine technology is decades old, people have been studying this for years. Although vaccines are relatively new, the technology is not. “

She also said that no data had shown that the vaccines had an effect on fertility or puberty in children.

Philbin said that once the CDC gives its official approval, UnityPoint could start rolling out vaccines through its pediatricians’ office and school health centers.

Hendrickson said that although they have pre-ordered vaccines, they are not getting a large enough allowance right away.

“The Peoria County census for 5 to 11 year olds is 15,000 people, and we were able to order about 300 at a time as suppliers,” said Hendrickson. “We hope we can have such an interest that we can continue to order as much as possible, that would be wonderful for our community.”

Hendrickson also referred to COVID-19 recalls now that all three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been approved and are available for recalls.

She said the region has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases for the population aged 60 and over. She said this population was among the first to get vaccinated and should be boosted to help maintain their level of immunity.

“They were really getting their first doses in January, their second doses in February, so they’re already at high risk and already eight months after we recommended six months,” Hendrickson said. “We are seeing these cases arise and we hope to remedy them as quickly as possible. “

Hendrickson also said that in addition to this age group, people with underlying health conditions and those who work in high-risk environments should also be reminded.

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