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Douglas County Health Department ready to focus on children as COVID-19 vaccine eligibility nears

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 10:14 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - There is some light at the end of the tunnel for parents waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine for their young children.

Pfizer announced Monday it’s asking the FDA for emergency use authorization of its vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

“It’s been beyond stressful because with her asthma, it’s like I’m taking a chance with her life sending her to school every day,” said Cassandra Walker, who’s been worried about her two young girls. She said word that youth may be able to get the Pfizer vaccine soon offers some comfort.

“Kids ages 5 to 11 had very similar immune responses to adolescents and adults who received the vaccine,” said Dr. Kari Simonsen, pediatrician-in-chief at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. “That demonstrates that it’s safe, it’s well-tolerated and they have a good immune response which should protect them from COVID.”

“Everything is in place to make it happen, and that system in place to support that effort is just going to grow,” said Phil Rooney, with the Douglas County Health Department, noting the schools will continue to play a big role in offering vaccine clinics to all those eligible.

“The schools keep inviting us in,” Rooney said. “They’re going to be a key element because they have a good relationship with the students.”

Pediatricians will also play a key role.

“There will be a lot of parents that want to get that information directly from the doctors who care for their children year-round,” said Rooney, noting mobile clinics are in the works for the harder-to-reach communities with low vaccination rates. “Hopefully, we’ll have those vans going out in the community by the time this arrives and make it really easy for these kids to get vaccinated.”

As for Walker, she said she’ll have her girls ready as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is made available.

“I don’t like taking chances with my daughter’s life. I mean, my kids are all I have; they’re very important to me.”

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