BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — We could be just weeks out to getting 28-million children under the age of 12 vaccinated. Pfizer has asked the FDA to approve doses for 5 to 11-year-olds.
The Biden Administration outlined its plan Wednesday for how it would vaccinate the children.
It would receive help from more than 25,000 pediatricians nationwide and other primary care sites. Over 100 children's hospitals would also help administer the vaccine as well as pharmacies and hundreds of schools and community-based clinics.
Here in the Buffalo region, the health and school community expect to be ready.
“We’re all kind of keeping our fingers crossed that it will be soon,” declared Dr. Kathleen Grisanti, president & medical director, Pediatric & Adolescent Urgent Care of WNY.
Pediatricians say they are anxiously awaiting to hear from the FDA and CDC to approve COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11.
Dr. Grisanti says pediatrician offices are making plans to vaccinate their younger patients and it will be similar to how other vaccines are administered.
“They'll have to monitor the lot number and document the expiration date and what arm it was given and how it was administered and it will go into the data base for immunizations as well,” explained Dr. Grisanti. “Once the approval is given things will be rolled out pretty quickly.”
On Tuesday Governor Kathy Hochul began urging parents to make appointments with their pediatricians in anticipation that the vaccine will be approved in the first week of November.
But Hochul says they're already talking with schools leaders asking for help with vaccine clinics.
“We are already in conversations with school superintendents,” Hochul stated.
Hochul noting there are 1.5 million children in New York State that are 5 to 11-years of age.
“I would love to see it more available in schools. I think that it's the next best, safe place,” remarked Hochul.
Governor Hochul says the state would provide as much help to schools, including a parental permission slip.
“We will make this as easy as we can for the schools so they will step up, particularly this will be in elementary schools now that they'll be ready to offer those shots — vaccines in the schools,” stated Hochul.
“For our younger ones — we are really going to have parents on board with this,” said Jessica Bauer Walker, president, Community Health Worker Parent Association.
The organization works with the Buffalo Public School District.
Bauer Walker said they’ve already been partnering with the Erie County Health Department and have set up clinics to get students 12 and up vaccinated.
“Luckily we've got an infrastructure — we've got an operation, so we're not just responding in a reactive way,” noted Bauer Walker.
“How lofty would that be to reach that age group?” Buckley asked.
“I think it's really important, right? — it’s part of ending the pandemic. I know there's certainly going to be an influx of parents who are willing to have their younger children vaccinated,” replied Bauer Walker.
Dr. Grisanti doesn't administration vaccines because her offices are for pediatric urgent care. But she says vaccine approval for 5 to 11 year olds couldn't come soon enough.
“We are seeing a number of children who are having to quarantine now because they've been exposed at schools,” responded Dr. Grisanti.
Dr. Grisanti says with children back in school full time this fall, her urgent care office has been seeing a number of elementary age children with symptoms and must be tested for COVID.
“If they have a runny nose, a cough — a rash, sneezing — they’re being sent hon and told that they need to have a COVID test — as pediatricians and physicals — we can’t say that it’s not COVID without a test,” Grisanti explained.
Bauer Walker says her organization continues to encourage and educate families to consider getting their children vaccinated, when eligible.
“If somebody’s not ready to get vaccinated — we leave information for them — we definitely encourage people to be lined with primary care and talk to their physicians,” Bauer Walker stated.
Dr. Grisanti encourages school families to talk with their pediatricians and set future appointments.
Grisanti says parents who are on the fence should speak with a pediatrician.
“I don’t think that parent should look at it any different then any of the other immunizations that are mandated for them to attend school,” Grisanti said. “The pediatricians are advising that they get it and they are supporting a mandate for schools.”