SC health experts recommend Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 after CDC approval

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Before yesterday, only those 12 years and older were eligible for a COVID vaccine.

“Almost all of the hundreds of children that have been in our children’s hospitals have been unvaccinated,” said Dr. Caughman Taylor, Prisma Health Children’s Hospital director.

“Since the delta variant became prominent, COVID-19 nationally has become the 6th leading cause of death for this age group according to the CDC,” said Dr. Jane Kelly, assistant state epidemiologist. 

Now, the CDC has approved the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

“This is a way to keep your children out of the hospital from coming to have to see us. It has been so busy that our ICU’s have been full,” Taylor said. “Not just with COVID children, but we’ve had a an ongoing number of COVID children. Here in the Midlands, we got up to 15 children hospitalized at one time.”

The Pfizer vaccine for this age group is 10 micrograms instead of 30 but it is still more than 90 percent effective studies show.

“The hope is that we are able to go into the Christmas holidays and time when people are traveling and reconnecting, that we will have those children protected as well,” said Dr. Robin LaCroix, Prisma Health department of pediatrics chair.

South Carolina is expecting more than 150,000 doses of this vaccine this week and already has more than 60,000 doses on hand according to DHEC.

“We are partnering with the South Carolina Department of Education to offer DHEC vaccination clinics to any schools interested in having them,” Kelly said.

While some parents may not feel that the virus is as big of a threat to children, Dr. Kelly disagrees.

“It’s not just about deaths,” she said. “We have kids who survive but they survive because they spent literally weeks on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. That has long-term chronic effects as well.”

Pediatricians urge parents to consult medical professionals if they have questions instead of the internet or social media.

“We just urge parents that this vaccine is safe, effective and has been tested and administered to millions and millions of people,” Taylor said.

Prisma Health Children’s Hospitals will begin administering the shots to this age group tomorrow afternoon beginning at 4. The Prisma location at 12 Richland Medical Park Drive in Columbia will be open Monday through Friday from 8 am to noon and from 4 to 6:30 pm.

In Sumter, there will be a vaccination site at 19 Calhoun Street near the corner of Calhoun and Main Streets Downtown. The hours for this site will be Wednesday and Friday from 7:30 am to 4 pm and on Saturday from 7:30 am to 3 pm.

You can find out more information about the vaccine for children 5 to 11 on DHEC’s website here.

Categories: Local News, Richland, Sumter