Arizona health officials ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccines for kids when approved
PHOENIX — The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be authorized for children ages 5 to 11 in a matter of weeks and Arizona health officials stand at the ready to get shots in arms as quickly as possible.
Jessica Rigler, assistant director of public health preparedness for the Arizona Department of Health Services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday more than 900 providers have been onboarded in addition to pharmacies throughout Arizona to provide vaccines to children.
“It’s really important to us that kids can get vaccinated where they and their families feel comfortable,” Rigler said.
“That’s the reason why we’ve worked with our partners to recruit as many providers as possible to join the effort to vaccinate children.”
She said federal partners have assured the state there will be ample supply to vaccinate all 5 to 11 year olds, with just under 225,000 vaccines projected to be delivered throughout Arizona in the first week of authorization.
Children could be vaccinated at their local pediatrician’s office, at a pharmacy or even at a special event at school, Rigler said.
People will be able to filter options on the Arizona Department of Health Services’ vaccine finder page online.
Rigler added the health department is preparing education materials for parents so they can learn about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for children.
A blog post on the health department’s website Wednesday said while severe illness, hospitalization and death are rare among children, 40 people under the age of 20 have died from the virus this year in Arizona while nearly 3,000 of that same age group have been hospitalized.
Children infected with the virus have in rare cases also developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome, according to the post, a treatable but potentially deadly condition.
Nearly 400,000 individuals between the ages of 12 and 19 have been vaccinated in Arizona, according to the blog post, while a CDC study recently found the Pfizer vaccine was extremely effective at preventing hospitalizations among those ages 12 and 18.
The health department said with more than 600,000 children in Arizona between 5 to 11 years old possibly being added to those eligible for vaccination, the state can move closer to herd immunity against the virus.
Pfizer and Moderna are also studying the vaccines in children as young as 6 months old, with results expected later this year.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Luke Forstner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.