Vaccine clinics offered to kids aged 5 to 11


Graphic by Angelina Guhl

Following the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, MCPS is collaborating with the Department of Health and Human Services and Holy Cross Hospital to establish free vaccination clinics at schools.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is now available for children aged 5-11 in the US, following the recent approval by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Health officials across the country are recommending parents to vaccinate their children as soon as possible, especially those who have been previously infected by COVID-19, in order to bolster immunity to the virus and reduce possible coronavirus-related hospitalizations and complications. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the coronavirus has infected 1.9 million children aged 5-11 nationwide, hospitalized over 8,000 children, and resulted in the death of 94 children. Vaccinating children within this age group will not only offer them protection against COVID-19, but will also control the spread of the virus and prevent others from being infected.

“I definitely think vaccinating 5-11 year olds is important because kids are around each other a lot, and until now they’ve been the most susceptible group because they haven’t been able to be vaccinated,” junior Cate Christopher said. “Vaccinating them will definitely decrease high rates of infection in younger kids.”

Clinical trials for the vaccine resulted in around a 91% effectiveness in children aged 5-11. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, data gathered from over 3,000 participants showed that the vaccine was highly successful in preventing symptomatic COVID-19.

Common symptoms resulting from the physical injection included mild soreness, fatigue, and headaches, which are similar to those observed in teenagers and adults. Severe reactions to the vaccine, such as anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction, were not observed during the trials. 

The Biden Administration has already secured enough pediatric doses for the approximately 28 million children within the 5-11 age group. Pharmacies, hospitals, pediatric offices, community health centers, and clinics have received thousands of vaccines.

According to the CDC Newsroom, the administration planned to scale up to full capacity starting the week of November 8. The administration is placing a significant responsibility for administering vaccines on more than 25,000 pediatricians and family doctors, who will play “a critical role in the nationwide effort to get children vaccinated.” 

The Pfizer vaccines are being distributed to Maryland health departments, private practices, and pharmacies. However, the availability of these pediatric doses is currently limited, so it will take time to vaccinate all the children in the 5-11 age group. The state plans to receive new shipments of vaccines every week. 

According to a recent MCPS Community Letter, the Montgomery County school system is collaborating with the local Department of Health and Human Services as well as Holy Cross Hospital to establish free vaccination clinics at schools. Detailed information regarding the clinics, such as times, dates, and locations, has not yet been determined.

In Montgomery County, there are over 100,000 children in the 5-11 age group who are eligible to receive the vaccine. Parents can make appointments to vaccinate their children at their local healthcare providers, local pharmacies, and county-run clinics.

Due to the county’s already limited supply of COVID vaccines, appointments are required to minimize the possibility of wasted dosages and to ensure that clinics have enough vaccines available each day. 

“I think it’s really important that younger kids get vaccinated too, especially now that everyone is back in person for school and they’re exposed to more people on a daily basis,” junior Maddy Ache said. “It’s a big step towards having more of the total US population vaccinated which will help with herd immunity.”