CINCINNATI — Shipments started arriving on Monday at health departments across the Tri-State as cities prepare to vaccinate the youngest group yet against COVID-19.
Hamilton County Public Health received a shipment of supplies like syringes Monday morning. Tuesday, vaccine doses should arrive.
It could mark a major turning point in the pandemic for parents like Eve Lee.
“Waiting for your child to get sick is the worst feeling in the world,” said Lee.
The family recently endured a breakthrough case of the Delta variant that spread to her 5-year-old, Teddy.
"Teddy does not know, does not recall, life before the pandemic. Despite all our best efforts to maintain some semblance of a normal life, the masking and distance has been a reality,” said Lee.
Mercy Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Stephen Feagins says families can expect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to authorize emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 Tuesday night. Your child would receive two shots three weeks apart.
“The symptoms are pretty mild, milder than reported with all of us,” said Feagins. “The biggest symptom is the shot itself, getting a shot.”
“Well, yeah, because I don’t like getting shots,” said Teddy.
Feagins says Ohio is slated to get about 250,000 doses. The challenge: there are about 370,000 children in that age group in the state, and some areas have few places to get vaccines.
"What we want to do is match those up: rural, urban. There are some rural counties that may not have a pediatrician office, and so really focusing on health departments there," said Feagins.
Feagins said if we can stave off another serious variant like Delta, opening up the vaccine to this age group could lead us from pandemic status to endemic status by the second quarter of 2022. Endemic would mean the virus is manageable.
One of the state’s largest health departments, Hamilton County Public Health, expects the child doses to arrive Tuesday.
“We’ll keep them frozen until we're able to start using them," said Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman.
Your child can get the shots at county health departments. Most are allowing walk-ins.
You can make an appointment with your pediatrician’s office or Cincinnati Children’s now.
Hamilton County Public Health is offering to place pop-up clinics outside any schools that request it.
The Ohio Vax-2-School program is also extending its scholarship drawing to ages 5-12 as even more added incentive. It will award a total of $2 million to 155 individuals. More info on that here.
“I feel like these kids can finally get back to the carefree childhood they deserve, and that's a huge relief to parents,” said Lee.