Georgia pediatricians prepare to begin vaccinations for children under 12

Georgia pediatricians are already preparing for parents’ questions if a COVID-19 vaccine for young children is authorized in the coming weeks.

Federal regulators expect at the end of this month to consider authorizing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for young children, from 5 to 11 years old.

Starting Wednesday, pediatricians can watch Georgia Department of Public Health webinars this month to learn more about the vaccine and the process for acquiring doses. One upcoming DPH webinar focuses on medical information about how the vaccines work, and how to discuss that information with patients and their parents. The Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is promoting the webinars to its 1,800 members and will also produce its own educational video for doctors.

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During a Wednesday briefing on COVID-19, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said federal officials have asked governors to plan education campaigns focusing on parents and families. States have also been asked to enroll pediatricians and other providers so that they can begin providing the vaccines as soon as they are approved for younger children.

Currently, only ages 12 and older can be vaccinated in the U.S., with shots made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech. Pfizer-BioNTech’s data reportedly show that young children’s immune response is so strong that they only need one-third of the dose that is currently given to everyone else.

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“I’m really excited as a pediatric health provider that we’ll have this new tool in our tool belt,” said Dr. Hugo Scornik, the Georgia group’s president. Scornik said he was looking forward to it for all types of patients, but especially for those with conditions or disabilities that make COVID-19 especially dangerous.