Millions of vaccines for young children will soon be in the hands of local pharmacists and pediatricians.
Some pharmacies in the Triangle already had hundreds of appointments on the books before a committee voted on Tuesday to recommend emergency use authorization for the Pfizer version of COVID-19 for children aged 5 to 11 . Now pediatricians are bracing for the flurry of appointments – and share fears that demand will exceed supply.
At Chapel Hill Pediatrics, the question isn’t whether parents will get their children vaccinated, but when. Pediatricians have already secured 1,200 patient appointments by the end of this week.
Health Park Pharmacy in North Raleigh has received 900 doses of Pfizer vaccine for young children – and they already have between 1,400 and 1,500 appointments this week.
Several pediatric centers in Cary and Apex already had waiting lists of more than 700 families.
State health officials say North Carolina is expected to receive more than 411,000 doses in three waves. With around 892,795 children eligible for the vaccine, these doses could immunize 46% of children in the first few weeks.
Some parents are already calling impatiently for their children to have access to a vaccine from the first wave.
“Seven hundred children have died from COVID-19. So we don’t want to lose another child to this disease, ”said Mary Braithwaite, pediatrician at Chapel Hill Pediatrics.
Phones keep ringing about vaccines for children ages 5 to 11. Braithwaite says that despite some apprehension from some, their places are filling up quickly.
“Fortunately, Chapel Hill Pediatrics is part of the first wave. We will have rapid access to vaccines, ”she said.
Their offices in Chapel Hill and Durham are allocated first-round doses, placing them in the first wave of pediatric vaccine shipments. This is in part due to its outreach over the past nine months, immunizing more than 6,000 people in hard-to-reach communities.
“It’s important because when you’re in doubt, you might not be very keen on looking for the answers or looking for the vaccine. So we have to bring it to you, ”said Braithwaite, who says they will also be bringing pediatric vaccines to schools in their area.
The pediatric team has around 300 appointments scheduled for Thursday, 600 for Saturday and another 300 for Sunday.
“So in theory we could immunize 2,100 children if we had enough vaccines for 2,100 children,” Braithwaite said. “The eventuality is not whether there are parents who want to do it, but whether we can get the vaccines from the state.”
It is a familiar place and a space for children. Parents trust their pediatricians with almost all of the answers.
“We get a lot of questions from parents,” she said. Parents want to know if children need the vaccine, for example, because data shows children don’t often get as sick as adults.
“We tell them: Absolutely,” she said.
Pediatric vaccine providers in central NC
This is a preliminary list of providers who could participate in the first wave of coronavirus vaccine delivery to children aged 5 to 11.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services