CLEVELAND (WJW)– Local hospitals are already preparing for vaccinations of children ages 12 to 15.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to recommend on Wednesday that access to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine be expanded.
“I expect it’s all going to happen very quickly,” said Dr. Michael Bigham, chief quality officer at Akron Children’s Hospital. “I would be really surprised if in the next 48 hours we weren’t vaccinating children aged 12 to 15”
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for this new age group.
“There’s some approval that has to go through the state to make kids 12 and up eligible, but assuming that all happens as quickly as I think it will, we can be giving immunizations by the end of the week,” said Dr. Adam Keating, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s.
Parents can sign up their children for the vaccine now at Akron Children’s Hospital Boardman and Akron sites for vaccination clinics. The hospital announced Monday it will continue offering the vaccine at school clinics throughout the summer.
At Cleveland Clinic Children’s, inoculations will take place at vaccination clinics.
There are about 70,000 children cared for above the age of 12 at the Akron Children’s Hospital patient list. At Cleveland Clinic Children’s that number is roughly 200,000, according to a spokesperson.
“I’m really excited to be able to expand the safety of the virus to kids,” said Sara Whiteleather a parent to a toddler and 7-month-old. “We’re believers in science and our children are vaccinated for lots of things, just like us. And so the coronavirus vaccine is just another vaccine that I am looking forward to giving to them.”
Children between the ages of 12 to 15 are 5 percent of Ohio’s population, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
“We had a great call with the governor’s office this morning and they’ve reassured us that we will have ready access to vaccine supply,” said Bigham, who added he is eager to get his teenage child vaccinated.
The CDC reports 1.5 million COVID cases in children ages 11 to 17 since the start of the pandemic. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said on Monday the state will immediately expand age eligibility for the vaccine, pending the CDC’S recommendation.
“Children, though not often dying of COVID disease, we know that a growing percentage of all the COVID cases in Ohio, for example, are from kids under the age of 18,” Bigham said. “We think it’s because the vaccination rate has been low.”