Local pediatricians begin COVID-19 vaccine roll-out for kids under the age of 5

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Pediatric practices and clinics across the Finger Lakes Region are starting to get their first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 5 but with shrinking resources from federal and state agencies, this roll-out won’t be nearly as large-scale as the others have been.

The goal has always been to try and vaccinate this age group in the pediatrician’s office, where the children are most comfortable but between having to draw up the doses themselves and use them within tight time frames and get all the paperwork lined up and signed off on, administering each vaccine is no small task.

“Last week, it was arriving and then practices had to look at how to accommodate this, the big difference is we don’t have a full-scale vaccine effort supported with those other mechanisms, like pharmacy teams going out to nursing homes, state and county-sponsored vaccination sites,” explains Dr. Stephen Cook, a Pediatrician at Golisano Children’s Hospital. So this time around, it’s falling on the primary care pediatricians who are also dealing with summer school physicals, back to school stuff, getting caught up, getting kids caught up with their regular visits and shots and also dealing with mental health concerns that are coming in as well and if they lost even one staff member at a private practice that’s going to slow things down.”

While many offices are already receiving calls from parents looking for appointments for the moment. "It’ll likely just to be given as part of routine well-child visits that are already scheduled this week, we’re really looking at next week after the fourth of being able to start having clinics at each site,” explains Dr. Steven Schulz, the Pediatric Medical Director for Rochester Regional Health.

Offices and health systems have to order directly from the state and locally, most have gone with the Pfizer vaccine for kids between the age of 6 months and 5 years old. “We wanted to maintain consistency with what we’ve been doing, and yes the preliminary data to show that Pfizer is 80% effective,” explains Dr. Schulz.

But the Pfizer vaccine is a 3-dose series that takes about 11 weeks to complete so parents have to consider the timing. "It’s important to start thinking about this now because by the time you complete that full series it’s going to be the time we’re starting in the fall again with illnesses likely picking back up,” says Dr. Schulz.

The best thing to do if you want to vaccinate your child against COVID-19 is to call his/her doctor directly and see how they are handling the roll-out.