SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- The Sullivan County Regional Health Department has officially started administering the first shots of the COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.
Health officials told News Channel 11 they had steady traffic throughout the day of people bringing in their children to get the shot. With the Pfizer vaccine now approved for this age group, small children can now take a big step in the fight against COVID-19.
The vial that contains the vaccine is much smaller than the one that contains the adult dose and comes with an orange cap as opposed to purple. Along with a smaller needle used to give the shot, Dr. Stephen May said there are a few additional changes from the regular dose.
“The real difference is in the amount of antigen that is in it. For those 12 and up, we use 30 micrograms. The pediatric dosing for ages 5 to 11 only has ten micrograms,” said Dr. May.
Dr. May said the approval of the vaccine for this newest age group is “an answered prayer” and with this more delicate population also comes a different approach to administering the vaccine.
“Children need a little more TLC, particularly when they know they’re getting a shot and that takes a little longer, and we want to be sure that we discuss all the pros and cons appropriately with our patients,” said Dr. May.
Sullivan County isn’t alone in administering the vaccine to kids. On Wednesday, Bristol Virginia Public Schools will hold a shot clinic for those interested at Van Pelt Elementary at 3 p.m., but first, they’ll be holding a virtual town hall to address the concerns of parents.
“We’ve had a lot of input and questions from our parents of younger children, so we wanted to set up this town hall to give them an opportunity to learn more about the vaccine, the change in the dose for children this age, and then also an opportunity for them to ask questions to medical experts,” said Bristol Virginia Public Schools Superintendent Keith Perrigan.
While getting the vaccine is a personal choice, Dr. May encourages people to look at the data. He said the vaccine remains safe and effective in the fight against the virus.