Children across the River Valley and Arkansas are getting their first doses of the COVID-19 after months of waiting.
The Federal Drug Administration approved the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 in late October. On November 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended vaccination for children ages 5-11.
As of Friday, Nov. 12, 7,632 doses have been given to children ages 5-11 in the state, said Danyelle McNeill, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Health.
Ethan Beene, an 11-year-old student from Fort Smith, was one of the first in line at the Sebastian County Health Department for his first dose.
“We immediately called our county health department and asked them,” said Heather Beene, his mother.
Beene said her son understands that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks, and that he had no problems getting the shot.
Fort Smith parent Kelly Wilson said she had some reservations about the vaccine but turned to her pediatrician and leaned on his recommendation for her children, Clare (7) and John (6).
“We have great faith in the science behind the vaccine and modern medicine,” Wilson said.
Wilson said she had COVID-19 in January and doesn’t want her children to go through that.
“We hope our good news and story help other parents and children decide about the benefits,” Beene said.
As of Nov. 12, county health departments statewide have received 38,100 doses for their use, McNeill said. 28,500 doses have been redistributed to clinics and a further 28,500 have been ordered, but to date these have not arrived.
Those interested in getting the vaccine for their children, or for themselves, can make an appointment through the Sebastian County Health Department or one of the local clinics.
The vaccine is also available at Walmart, CVS, and Walgreen pharmacies. Appointments can be made on their websites, by telephone or via walk-in.
Abbi Ross is the city reporter at the Southwest Times Record. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @__AbbiRoss