Pediatrician: Kids 5 to 11 should get COVID-19 shot 'anywhere a child can get a vaccine'

Posted at 6:00 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 19:38:55-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Parents and guardians of young children have a lot of options when it comes to where to get their 5 to 11-year-olds vaccinated, and pediatricians hope they follow through.

"Anywhere a child can get a vaccine the fastest is probably preferred. However, we are very well set up for children here to get the vaccine in a manner they are comfortable," said Dr. Laurie Alsentzer, a pediatrics specialist at Pediatric Associates of Davidson County.

In the coming days, pediatricians in Tennessee will receive kid-sized doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The two-shot vaccine cleared two final hurdles Tuesday, including a recommendation from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisers, followed by a green light from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

"I think it's very exciting. We have many parents who can't wait to get it for their children because of the effects COVID has had on their families," Dr. Alsentzer said.

The vaccine will be one third the size of a regular dose, including a smaller needle and have a slightly different formula.

Like health care workers, Dr. Alsentzer said she knew parents and kids were anxious.

"Some kids are going to be afraid of a vaccine no matter what, but some if they've had a vaccine in their recent memory, and it wasn't as bad as they thought, it can actually be helpful because sometimes the fear of the shot is worse than the shot itself," Dr. Alsentzer said.

Pediatrician's offices, pharmacies, local health departments and even some schools will become places families in Tennessee can choose to get the vaccine.

Child life specialists at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt suggest involving kids in some of the decision-making.

"If the choice is that we are going to Vanderbilt to get the vaccine, perhaps the appropriate choice is [asking] which arm would you like for them to do it in. Or would you like to sit in my lap? Or if dad is coming or another caregiver perhaps their lap," said Katie Beard, a child life specialist. "We want to make sure we're giving children choices that they actually have."

While it's been a long wait, many are celebrating that kids could be fully vaccinated by the peak of the holiday season.

"The vaccine in kids will give a lot more comfort to these big family celebrations," Dr. Alsentzer said.