CINCINNATI — Medical teams across Cincinnati began administering COVID-19 vaccines to 5-to-11 years old on Wednesday. Cincinnati Children's Hospital inoculated over 400 children before the end of the day.
On Wednesday, Children's accepted so many walk-in parents seeking vaccinations for their children that they stopped accepting walk-ins for the time being.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use Tuesday night. Day one of eligibility for this age group brought an initial rush of patients out to pediatrician offices across the city.
“This is a huge thing,” said one mother, Joanna Contorno. “(My daughter) is very excited she can go back to doing gymnastics and stuff in the winter, and indoor sports.”
Her child was among the first group to receive the vaccine in Cincinnati through their doctor’s office.
Larry Corbus brought his two grandchildren to get the vaccine.
“They're also very excited about going to restaurants again inside,” Corbus said. “They haven't been going inside at all, and they're going to be able to do that. And we're also planning on a family trip that we couldn't take.”
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and UC Health began taking patients by appointments.
”Children have tolerated this vaccine very well,” said Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney.
She is Chief of Staff at Cincinnati Children’s. She said the side effects after the vaccine are typically milder in children than adults. She addressed some misinformation circulating about fertility and myocarditis.
“There’s no impact from these vaccines on fertility,” said Manning-Courtney. “[Myocarditis] was not seen in our cohort of vaccine trial participants. Which is great. Even when it is seen, it’s very mild, and it is six to seven times more commonly seen when you get COVID.”
Still, some parents ask, why vaccinate a children since the virus is less deadly to this age group?
“You're banking on it being mild when we've told you many times that we see children every day, including today, at Cincinnati Children's Hospital hospitalized with moderate to severe COVID,” Manning-Courtney said.
Plus, she said, it slows the spread of the virus to those more vulnerable to COVID.
The Pediatric Associates of Mt. Carmel received 300 COVID-19 vaccines and also started vaccinating children Wednesday.
Dr. Chris Peltier, a pediatrician at the practice, said he is hearing an overwhelming sense of relief from parents who can finally get their children vaccinated. For parents, it means kids don't have to risk going out in crowds or missing school.
For parents with doubts about vaccinating their children, Dr. Peltier shared the conversations he’s had.
"I get asked all the time, well kids don't get very sick, so why should my child get it?," Peltier said. "And I always say, you're right and that's good. So the majority of kids that get COVID-19 are not ending up in the hospital. Twenty-five percent of all COVID-19 infections the last several weeks have been in kids. So we're seeing a large volume."
Dr. Peltier also said parents are concerned about risks and side effects.
“Really they're fairly minimal,” he said. “You're going to see some redness, soreness at the site of the injection. You may get some low grade fever, especially after that second dose and some fatigue and body aches.”
Those who received the vaccine Wednesday should be fully vaccinated by Christmas.
“Last year, before the vaccine, we would come and see them and stay outside the whole time. Even at Christmas time,” Corbus said. "So, this means a whole lot.”
Kroger says it is prepared to administer pediatric doses of the Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine formulated for use in people age 5 to 11 years old. The online scheduling tool will be updated soon to reflect this change, and patients may visit www.kroger.com/covidvaccine [kroger.com] to schedule an appointment.
You can make an appointment with Cincinnati Children’s by clicking here.
To make an appointment through UC Health, call 513-584-DOSE (3673), weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., or visit uchealth.com/getting-your-vaccine.
NKY Health Department plans to start vaccinating this age group Monday at health centers in our four counties: Campbell, Grant, Boone, Kenton.
Hamilton County Public Health could start as early as Thursday.
Clermont County Public Health is taking appointments through the Armorvax website.