Tower Health announced that, following the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization, Tower Health Medical Group (THMG) Pediatrics – Wyomissing, St. Christopher’s Pediatric Associates Northeast Pediatrics (starting November 15), Reading Hospital Children’s Health Center, and Reading Hospital Family Healthcare Center will offer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for current patients ages 5 to 11 by appointment.
The health system continues to develop plans for a broader rollout of the vaccine. Children will need to receive two doses of the vaccine 21 days apart. At the time of the first dose, the second dose appointment will be scheduled. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all eligible children receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Children in this age group will receive a lower dose of the vaccine than adults. During the clinical trial period, Pfizer tested three different dosage levels of the vaccine to determine the smallest dose children could receive, while still providing the highest antibody response. The data showed that a dose of 10 mcg (one third the adult dosage) provided sufficient antibody levels to prevent serious disease among children ages 5-11 years.
Olubunmi Ojikutu, MD, Chair, Department of Pediatrics at Reading Hospital, said, "The data that was reviewed has demonstrated the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children. Vaccinating this segment of the population is so important because it will prevent further spread of the virus and decrease the opportunity for the virus to mutate."
"We are very fortunate that the COVID vaccinations are effective at preventing significant illness against the current strains. If we allow the virus the opportunity to continue to mutate, there is potential we could be faced with a strain resistant to vaccines that would cause additional serious illness," said Dr. Ojikutu.
"Unvaccinated children at any age are at risk to contract COVID-19," said Emily Souder, MD, Pediatric Infectious Diseases at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. "And while most children who contract COVID-19 will not get severely ill, there are thousands of children aged 5-11 who have been hospitalized and 94 deaths."
"It is critical they receive the vaccine to protect themselves and others around them and to allow children to return to more normal life. I fully expect that as we vaccinate children, we will be able to prevent these hospitalizations and deaths, just as we’ve seen with vaccination in the adults," said Dr. Souder.
Parents and guardians interested in vaccinating their children are encouraged to call their child’s pediatrician to schedule an appointment. Tower Health encourages community members to explore options for receiving the vaccine from other sources, including local pharmacies and community clinics. You can find vaccine distribution sites by searching vaccines.gov, texting a home zip code to 438829, or calling 1-800-232-0233.
The COVID-19 vaccine is another tool to help the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Positive COVID-19 cases continue in our region and across the country. Vaccination reduces the spread of the virus, along with wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand hygiene as recommended by the CDC.