(WXYZ) — Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5-11 could be available as early as this week. Now, the challenge is to get the shots into the arms of hundreds of thousands of kids here in Michigan.
Michigan's new chief medical officer said the push to vaccinate Michigan kids will be getting underway soon, and the vaccine rollout for kids won't look like the effort to vaccinate their parents.
For Coretta kemp, a COVID-19 vaccine for kids can't come soon enough to protect her grandson, Derek.
"I lost my dad and almost lost my mother as well. So, yes, it definitely plays a factor. I've been vaccinated myself. So I'm definitely going to have him vaccinated," she said.
Kemp, plans to have derek vaccinated at the pediatrician's office. Those trusted providers will be a key part of the vaccine rollout, according to Michigan's chief medical officer Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian.
"What we heard is that many parents prefer to go to their trusted pediatrician. And so we're working very closely with pediatricians' offices," Bagdasarian said.
The state has over 287,000 pediatric COVID-19 doses allocated, based on population and 85% of " vaccine for children" providers are already enrolled to get COVID-19 shots into little arms.
"So as soon as it's approved, as soon as it has emergency authorization, those doses will come into the state and go directly to providers," she said.
We won't see mass vaccination sites like we saw Ford Field and TCF Center, but the state is reaching out to schools and adolescent clinics. The state said it will also use existing testing sites at churches and local community centers, provide vaccines at local events and at other frequently visited locations.
"What we'd like to do is make it so that no one has to wait, nobody has to look around for vaccine doses. That they're available at the places they would like to get their children immunized," Bagdasarian said.
Children 11 and under are America's largest group of completely unvaccinated people. As chief medical officer for the state, Bagdasarian says immunizing children is a critical step in beating back the virus, stopping school outbreaks, and protecting immunocompromised children and adults.
"For both protection of the individual as well as from a community standpoint, vaccinating children is really important," she said.
But despite the millions of people who have already gotten the shot, some parents will be reluctant. Devin Calloway remembers his COVID-19 vaccine side effects.
"I got the Pfizer, and after the first shot, I was feeling nauseous and weak for at least two days. And that's not what I want for them right now," he said.
"For those parents who are feeling uncomfortable and on the fence, I think it's really worthwhile having these conversations with a trusted health advisor," Bagdasarian said.
Bagdasarian says vaccination rates for physicians are high here in Michigan and across the country.
Many doctors are excited about vaccinating their own children. She hopes that will send a signal to families across the state that the vaccine is safe and effective in protecting against severe illness and death.
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