"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Where are the pediatric COVID vaccines?

Oct. 13, 2023 – It has been a month for the reason that CDC recommended which updated Covid-19 vaccination for everybody 6 months and older and promised that the vaccines could be available “by the end of this week in most places you would normally go to get vaccinated.”

But since that Sept. 12 suggestion, legions of fogeys are still scrambling to get the vaccine, especially for his or her youngest children, and have gotten increasingly frustrated.

Public health officials say the situation is improving and can proceed to achieve this. But for fogeys like Christina Sellers, that's no consolation. In late September, she was busy preparing for her family's move from the Atlanta area to Lansing, MI. Anticipating movers coming out and in of the home, her to-do list included not only the standard packing but additionally getting the updated COVID vaccine for her, her husband and their 4-year-old son. She is immunocompromised, so it will be important to maintain the entire family up so far on the vaccine.

She and her husband received their vaccinations before the move but are still waiting for his or her son's vaccinations. While she was still in Atlanta, she contacted pharmacies, the health department and her pediatrician's office. Nobody had it for his or her age group.

The day after the family arrived in Lansing, “I called CVS, Walgreen's, Rite Aid, a few independent pharmacies, the health department and the major health systems in the area,” she said. She was willing to drive 100 miles, which often takes about an hour and a half in Lansing, she said.

Finally, the Ingham County Health Department scheduled her son for a vaccination appointment on October twentieth. “They did give us an appointment, but I tried to be persistent and see if I could get the appointment sooner.”

The sellers' story will not be unusual. She and about 7,000 others belong to the Facebook group Protect Their Future, an advocacy group for access to childhood vaccinations and other health care. Members publicize their efforts and share details about vaccine availability. At X, formerly known as Twitter, Users who cannot find the vaccine indicate what number of days have passed for the reason that 2023-2024 COVID vaccine was beneficial by the CDC and point to inaccurate or outdated availability information on sites like Vaccines.gov.

From mid-June to early September, the number of youngsters under 18 with confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations increased nearly fivefold, from 237 to 1,175, in keeping with an evaluation by the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to the CDC, greater than half of youngsters under 17 who’re hospitalized with COVID don’t have any underlying medical conditions.

Obstacles, solutions

Public health officials and COVID vaccine manufacturers have acknowledged the obstacles, especially in getting the vaccine to the youngest children, but point to solutions which might be already within the works or in place.

Deliveries: Vaccines for adults were rolled out first, but more pediatric doses are coming, said spokespeople for Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna, the 2 vaccines approved for kids 6 months and older.

According to a Pfizer spokesperson, “Pfizer has shipped and delivered more than 18 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for 2023-2024, including more than 1.5 million pediatric doses for children under 12 years of age. We continue to meet demand from wholesalers and customers. “We expect to administer millions of additional doses each week.”

A Moderna spokesperson said: “Our pediatric COVID vaccine is currently available and we have completed our deliveries to the CDC, which is managing much of the distribution. “We also proceed to deliver to retail pharmacies and other care sites.” She did not immediately provide details Number of pediatric doses shipped.

Mix and Match: The CDC has said that for childhood vaccines, parents should stick with the same vaccine manufacturer whenever possible, which can make it difficult to find the updated vaccine. However, at a City hall Hosted by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Oct. 4, CDC Director Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, said that children who have completed primary immunization with a manufacturer “are perfectly high quality to receive an updated vaccine.” to change with another.”

Pharmacy availability and age limits: In August 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allowed pharmacists in all states to administer the COVID vaccines to children ages 3 and older to expand the availability of vaccination options.

In May, this declaration was amended and extended until December 2024.

“Pharmacies in all states can administer the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals ages 3 and older,” an agency spokesperson said. COVID-19 vaccines for children up to two years old “must be administered in a provider’s office,” she said.

Nevertheless, guidelines vary from pharmacy to pharmacy as to the age at which vaccinations are given. For example, pediatric COVID-19 vaccination appointments for people ages 5 and older can be scheduled online at CVS or through the CVS Pharmacy app, said Matthew Blanchette, a spokesman. Individuals 18 months and older can receive the vaccine at CVS's MinuteClinic, in-store clinics and schedule the appointment at Minuteclinic.com.

The reason: MinuteClinic locations are staffed with providers such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants and support staff who have experience vaccinating younger children, he said.

It's best to call ahead and check all online information, even appointments – as parents can attest in the Facebook group after making appointments, going and learning there is no vaccine for their child.

Physician participation: As vaccine supplies became commercialized and doctors now have to pay, some pediatricians were hesitant to order the vaccines, citing slim profit margins and uncertainty about how many of their patients would choose the updated vaccine.

Now Pfizer is allowing a 100 percent return policy, which is expected to lead to more pediatric practices ordering the vaccine, which comes in three-dose vials. In an email, a Pfizer spokesperson confirmed that “Pfizer has a 100% return policy for wasted/expired vaccines for kids under 5 years of age.” [buyers] A credit will be issued within 60 days of Pfizer receiving the return.”

Moderna's pediatric COVID vaccine is provided in single-dose vials, a spokesperson said, noting that pediatricians “are more precise when ordering and subsequently there may be less waste. Moderna allows a certain percentage of an order to be returned.”

These measures seem to have helped.

“I have seen an increased willingness among pediatricians to order the vaccine,” said Pia Pannaraj, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases.

Efforts proceed, sometimes with success

For some parents, increased availability can't come soon enough.

“We have so many families in our group right now who are desperate to find out where they can get the vaccine,” said Fatima Khan, mother of a 5- and 7-year-old and co-founder of Protect Their Future. “We had parents drive two hours to be told the vaccine was not available [after making an appointment]. What was really disturbing was that even last week we were hearing from people in Manhattan who couldn't find it.”

Khan, of Novi, MI, found the vaccine for her children but had to drive about an hour to get it.

The vaccine is sometimes difficult to find, even for older children, and parents often report that information on vaccination websites is out of date or completely inaccurate. After making an appointment and then being canceled by the pharmacy due to a lack of supplies, Lynn Fingerhut of Peoria, Illinois, managed to get the updated vaccine for herself, her husband and their 14-year-old son.

She had to make several calls to find the vaccine for her 10-year-old son. “I spent about 2 hours and 20 minutes on hold with calls on Tuesday alone,” she said. She has a job as a saleswoman at home and runs a dog walking business. On the walks she is usually busy with multiple tasks and stays on hold for long periods of time.

After all, she got lucky. The pharmacy at a Kroger in East Peoria told her she could just stop by this week. She did that on Thursday and her son got the vaccination.

Sellers, the mother of the unvaccinated four-year-old, is a nurse and hopes for similar success. “If I could get my hands on the shot, I would take my own child.”