BATON ROUGE, La. — All Louisiana children ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) formal recommendation on Tuesday evening. Prior to this announcement, the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine was recommended and authorized for people ages 12 and older.
Following CDC’s recommendation, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reviewed CDC guidance and has alerted all vaccine providers for children in the state that they can begin administering the Pfizer pediatric vaccine immediately.
“This is exactly the news we’ve been waiting to hear, and I’m especially glad that the best protection we have against COVID-19 is now being afforded to our children ages 5-11,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “I want to encourage parents and guardians to talk with their children’s pediatricians, get their questions answered and to make an informed decision. This not only impacts our children, but also their teachers, schools, friends, family members and communities. The more people who are vaccinated the greater our opportunity to put this pandemic behind us. We know this virus affects children, and as adults we have an obligation and responsibility to make sure they stay as healthy as possible, which includes making sure they are vaccinated against what has proven to be a virus that can cause severe illness and worse in people of all ages. Further, everyone infected with COVID-19 is also infectious. To minimize the transmission of the virus we must maximize vaccinations -- especially in our children who are more likely to be asymptomatic and unknowingly spread the virus to others. This is a major step in the right direction that can ultimately help everyone.”
“As LDH Secretary and as a mother, I am excited and relieved that CDC has recommended all children ages 5 and above get the COVID-19 vaccine. My son, Langston, may be even more excited. He’s been ready to go sleeves up and will be getting his shot as soon as possible,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney N. Phillips. “Parents have fought hard to keep their children safe throughout the pandemic. This is a big day for families of young children in Louisiana, especially as we enter the holiday season.”
“The CDC’s clear recommendation is for everyone 5 years of age and up to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Louisiana Department of Health today formally adopts that recommendation today,” said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “We know this is exciting news for many families and appreciate your patience with providers this week as the program ramps up over the coming days. For those who still have questions about whether the vaccine is right for them, we encourage you to speak with your child’s pediatrician.”
“Sharing this life-saving vaccine with our children is a huge step forward and provides us all with more confidence and optimism about the future,” American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Lee Savio Beers said in a news release. “Pediatricians are eager to participate in the immunization process and talk with families about this vaccine. We want to ensure that access to this vaccine is equitable, and that every child is able to benefit.”
Where and how do I get my child vaccinated?
For a person younger than age 18, parental/caregiver consent is needed to get the shot. LDH has developed a consent form that can be found on its website at ldh.la.gov/Covid-19K-12.
Families should contact their local vaccine provider to confirm they have the COVID-19 pediatric vaccine. The vaccine is in the process of being shipped and some providers may not receive their initial shipments until later in the week or next week. Currently, families can call 211 or the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 with general questions or to find a vaccination location near them that has ordered COVID-19 pediatric vaccine. In the coming days, the federal vaccine finder Vaccines.gov will be updated with pediatric vaccine search capability.
What is the risk of COVID-19 to children?
COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, MIS-C (multi-inflammatory syndrome in children) and long-term complications, such as “long COVID,” in which symptoms can linger for months. The spread of the Delta variant resulted in a surge of COVID-19 cases in children throughout the summer. During a six-week period in late June to mid-August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased fivefold [r20.rs6.net].
COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Louisiana. Since the beginning of August, 25% of all new COVID-19 cases in Louisiana were in children.
LDH reported nine pediatric deaths tied to the recent Delta surge alone. A total of 18 children in Louisiana have died of COVID since the pandemic began.
Nationally, according to the FDA, at least 94 children ages 5 to 11 have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and 8,300 have become so sick they needed to be hospitalized. In fact, COVID was the eighth-leading cause of death in the age group over the past year, after accidents, cancer, malformations, murder, heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, and flu or pneumonia.
MIS-C is most common in children between the ages of 5 and 13. Since July 1 of this year, 107 cases of MIS-C have occurred in Louisiana children. (Nationally, by early October, 5,217 kids had come down with MIS-C, including 2,034 between 6 and 11, according to the CDC.)
Why should you consider getting your child vaccinated?
Vaccination, along with other preventative measures, can protect children from COVID-19 using the safe and effective vaccines already recommended for use in adolescents and adults in the United States. Similar to what was seen in adult vaccine trials, vaccination was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 among children ages 5-11 years. In clinical trials, vaccine side effects were mild and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children. The most common side effect was a sore arm.
COVID-19 vaccines have undergone -- and will continue to undergo -- the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Vaccinating children will help protect them from getting COVID-19 and therefore reducing their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, or developing long-term COVID-19 complications.
Getting your children vaccinated can help protect them against COVID-19, as well as reduce disruptions to in-person learning and activities by helping curb community transmission.
What if you have more questions?
That’s understandable. Families can call the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 to find a provider in their area and to speak to medical professionals with clinical experience who can help answer their questions.
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