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Hospitals prepare for kids’ vaccine: ‘I expect there to be demand’

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:30 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - There’s only one step left before kids ages 5-11 get the green light to get vaccinated.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have the final say.

A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows some interesting trends. When Pfizer first submitted its data to the Food and Drug Administration in September, its survey found 34 percent of parents said they’d get their child vaccinated “right away.” Twenty-four percent said they ‘definitely’ would not. The most recent numbers from Thursday, the number of willing parents is down and the number who say they won’t is up. The majority is in that “wait and see” category.

But doctors say they still expect the demand to be very high when it all begins.

By the end of this week, many vaccine providers might have a full house again. But this time the patients will be much smaller.

“COVID-19 is the eighth leading cause of death in pediatrics over the last year. And so we know that this does affect pediatrics, both from a hospitalization standpoint and death. So it gives us another tool,” said Dr. Joshua Wyche, assistant vice president for strategic planning at Augusta University Health.

It’s a tool AU Health and other care providers are already preparing to distribute. AU Health has ordered more than 300 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for ages 5-11. The Georgia Department of Public Health says it’ll be ready to start as soon as the CDC signs off.

“I expect there to be demand,” Wyche said.

So what’s different?

The Pfizer shot for those 12 and up has 30 micrograms of vaccine, while this one only has one-third of that. It also has an ingredient to allow for longer refrigerator stability. Instead of 30 days – it’ll last 10 weeks.

“Which is really important when we start to think low population areas such as rural areas, and as we think about rollouts outside of the United States,” said Wyche.

Wyche says pediatric offices will be at the forefront of the distribution.

“Have that conversation. Your pediatrician is willing and ready and available to have that conversation,” he said.

No doubt things are looking better.

University Hospital said it’s cared for a total of 3,426 COVID patients since March 2020.

The hospital said 2,856 were able to recover and be discharged. They say cases continue to decline but colder weather bringing us indoors is a concern. They say, “We have the people who’ve gotten vaccinated to thank for the decline in cases.”

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