Triad pediatricians begin vaccinating kids 5-11 against COVID-19


(WGHP) — After health officials granted emergency use authorization for a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine for 5-11-year-olds, Triad pediatricians have begun the process of vaccinating younger children.

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and Brenner Children’s Hospital will start scheduling appointments Thursday, Novant Health will start administering doses Thursday too.

Thomasville Pediatrics started vaccinating children Wednesday afternoon after receiving 300 doses of vaccine. The clinic has already scheduled 50 appointments.

“Children are very aware that this is affecting them every single day, and affecting their families so I just discuss openly, these are the important things to do to protect you and keep you healthy and keep you at school,” said Dr. Donald Winters, partner at Thomasville and Archdale Pediatrics.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said 411,000 doses be rolled out initially to vaccinate up to 46% of the eligible pediatric population.

“I think about it every single day, every little cold and sniffles, every notification from the school, I worry about, and I think that particularly once she gets her second dose, the full relief, I don’t even think it’s set in yet but it’s going to feel good,” said Jessica Palakshappa, whose 5-year-old daughter received her COVID vaccine Wednesday from Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

The hospital system is getting 6,900 doses for the first week of the rollout. White House officials announced Wednesday the program will be fully operational by next week.

Parents and pediatricians hope the first wave of doses will mean fewer kids missing school and fewer pediatric hospital visits.

According to NCDHHS, during the most recent surge, pediatric cases of COVID-19 rose by about 240% nationally.

“It’s actually been kind of sad to watch adults get vaccinated and still see our children, actually with the Delta waves getting hospitalized more than they were before, so relief I think, and gratefulness,” said Anna Miller-Fitzwater, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

Staff at High Point Pediatrics are still unpacking doses and making plans for families.

“Our plan right now is we plan clinics by appointment, so we can bring in families at a time and make sure that we have adequate dosing for everybody,” Dr. Becky Weinshilboum said.

With fewer mass vax sites, pediatricians are ready to answer questions and help families feel comfortable.

“Whatever we can do to help educate and be a partnership with our families with our patients. I think we all went into this because we love watching these kids grow up, and it would be really nice if we could get them through this pandemic and get to the other side,” she said.

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