SHERIDAN — Late last week, Northeast Wyoming Pediatric Associates and Sheridan County Public Health began rolling out the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.
In a joint statement sent to The Sheridan Press, Drs. Michael Sanderson, Suzanne Oss and Shauna Ejtehadi of Pediatric Associates, said 32 children were vaccinated on Nov. 5 without complications or concerns. Additional multi-hour vaccination clinics are planned at Pediatric Associates in the coming weeks.
In addition, the Sheridan County Public Health Department is also administering the Pfizer vaccine to younger residents who are recently eligible for it and held its first walk-in clinic Nov. 11 with additional clinics scheduled for Monday, Thursday, and Friday mornings.
The vaccine’s introduction to some of Sheridan County’s youngest residents comes after the recent approval of the Pfizer vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The approvals follow months of clinical trials, which have shown the vaccine to provide 90% protection against COVID-19 in this age group.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children has the same ingredients as the vaccine used for older individuals, but comes in a much smaller dose, according to Pediatric Associates doctors. The dose is 10 micrograms, which is one third of the dose used for elderly individuals. This smaller dose generates an antibody response comparable to the higher vaccine dose for older children and adults.
The only children who should not receive the vaccine are those who have an allergic reaction to a substance known as polyethylene glycol, a vaccine ingredient commonly found in over-the-counter preparations used to soften bowel movements in children and adults .
“Beyond the allergy to polyethylene glycol, there is no child aged 5 and older who should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” the doctors said. “Even in cases of severe chronic illness, such as children with heart transplants or cystic fibrosis, most specialists still recommend… these children receive a COVID-19 vaccine.”
Most children will experience nothing more than a few common side effects – such as injection site pain, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches – after receiving the vaccine after receiving the vaccine. Most children feel “back to normal” within a day or two.
The doctors said they often heard concerns about heart inflammation related to the vaccine, but the study evaluating the safety of the vaccine found no cases of heart inflammation. Heart inflammation is even more likely in children who are naturally infected with COVID-19.
Of the 877 reports of vaccine-related heart inflammation in people under the age of 30, none were fatal, and the vast majority of cases were mild, the doctors said. On the other hand, one of the most feared complications of acute COVID-19 is a disease called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, often involving a degree of heart inflammation that can lead to hospitalization and ICU level care. There have been more than 5,200 cases of MIS-C to date, the doctors said. Children of all ages have contracted this complication.
“The evidence at this point is clear,” the doctors said. “It is much safer for children to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccine than the risk of complications from natural COVID-19 infection.”
To date, at least 791 children under the age of 18 have died from COVID-19 nationwide, according to the CDC, including 172 children ages 5-11. This is just a fraction of the 759,000 people who have died from the virus nationwide.
Although children are among those least affected by the virus, doctors still recommend it for almost all children who have recently become eligible for it.
“As pediatricians, we firmly believe that no child should die from a disease that can be prevented simply by getting an injection, especially when that vaccine is as safe as it has been proven to date,” the doctors said.
The doctors noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is also impacting the mental health of local children, especially those who have lost parents, grandparents and loved ones to the virus. The doctors asked adults to consider the impact of that loss on their children before deciding whether they should get the vaccine themselves.
“We have seen first hand the devastating effects of this pandemic on the children of our community and wonder how things would change if parents took all this into consideration when deciding whether or not to enroll themselves or their child. writing for a COVID-19 vaccine,” the doctors said. “Most of us have either suffered a great loss as a result of this virus, or know someone who has suffered a great loss as a result of this virus. Safe and effective vaccines are the best way to minimize any further damage this pandemic could cause to our community (so we can move forward) to safer and happier times.”
As of Nov. 8, 42.07% of the county’s residents had been fully vaccinated, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. This is above the national average of 40.3%, and Sheridan County is the fifth most vaccinated county in the state, behind Teton (78.32%), Albany (50.17%), Hot Springs (45.12%) and Fremont (43.03%) counties.
Currently, only Pediatric Associates and Public Health are rolling out the vaccine to children. The Sheridan Memorial Hospital, which continues to offer vaccinations to people over the age of 12, will not provide the vaccine to younger children. In a media interview with The Sheridan Press last week, John Addlesperger, Sheridan Memorial Hospital’s chief medical officer, said it made sense to put local pediatricians in charge of distribution to local children.
“Having that contact with their primary care provider adds value to discussing their needs regarding vaccinating children,” Addlesperger said. “…We just think this is the best place for them to get all the care they need around the vaccination.”
Vaccines can be scheduled by calling Northeast Wyoming Pediatric Associates during business hours at 307-675-5555. Sheridan County Public Health accepts walk-in appointments on Monday, Thursday, and Friday mornings.
For those 12 years and older, vaccines are available from Sheridan Memorial Hospital, Sheridan County Public Health, Hospital Pharmacy West, Albertsons, Walmart, and Walgreens.See vaccines.gov to find a COVID-19 vaccine appointment near you.