Pfizer vaccine for kids arrives at Riley

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11/03/2021

Child vaccine

Hospital receives its first shipment of the newly approved child-size doses of the medication to prevent COVID-19.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

The tiny vials with the orange label are the latest warriors in the fight against COVID-19, and the first prized shipment arrived this morning at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

The Centers for Disease Control gave the final OK Tuesday night for the child-sized dose of the Pfizer vaccine to be given to kids ages 5-11. This recommendation comes after the FDA approved the vaccine last week.

Heather Cody, project manager for pharmacy at Riley, unpacked the 300 doses that arrived at the Downtown Indianapolis hospital and placed them carefully in Olaf, the department’s deep freezer, which protects the temperature-sensitive vaccine.

The 300 doses are contained in three small boxes (10 vials per box with 10 doses per vial) that were tucked safely into voluminous packaging and kept cold with dry ice.

For Cody, unpacking the pediatric vaccine is another high point in the past year. Last December, when the first Pfizer vaccine for adults rolled out, she and a team of people were on hand for the first shipments.

This is just as exciting.

“We’ve been anxiously awaiting this. It’s super exciting because it’s for peds, and it’s the first,” she said. “We want to get as many doses into arms as possible.”

Michael McGregory, Riley’s director of pharmacy, said vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds is “an important next step in ending the pandemic.”

Alison Isenhour can’t wait to get her 9-year-old daughter, Lauren, vaccinated. She found plenty of appointments available on the Walgreens website. Lauren will get her first dose Monday after school at a Walgreens near their home in Brownsburg.

“Lauren is very excited to be able to get the vaccine,” Isenhour said. “Not only to protect herself but others, especially her brother Adam.”

Adam, 16, is a cancer survivor. He was vaccinated in the spring.

Isenhour, who works as a mammography technician at IU Health Methodist Hospital, said she knows the technology and the science that has been put into the development of the vaccine.

Still, she said, she would be lying if she said she wasn’t a little nervous.

“I’m about as anxious as I was with any shot, vaccine or medication they’ve gotten since birth. We want the utmost protection for them, and I believe this vaccine benefit outweighs the risk.”

While children are less likely to become seriously ill with COVID if they contract it, nearly 700 have died from the virus since last year. Riley saw a big uptick in pediatric patients with the virus during the peak of the Delta variant spread over the past few months.

Of those who have contracted the disease or been exposed to it, a small percentage have been diagnosed with MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children), which can lead to inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, eyes and GI system.

Parents who are interested in getting their children vaccinated should contact their pediatrician. Shots also will be available to children who are inpatient at Riley or who are being seen in the outpatient clinic. They also will be available at the retail pharmacy in the Riley Outpatient Center on Thursdays and Fridays.

Go to ourshot.in.gov for the latest information on where the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is being offered.

This is the first pediatric COVID vaccine for ages 5-11 authorized for use in the U.S. The vaccine is one-third the dose of the adult vaccine, and children will get two injections given 21 days apart.

Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, mdickbernd@iuhealth.org