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Health & Wellness

Kids under 5 in North Texas can now get a COVID-19 vaccine

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Pablo Arauz Pena
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KERA News
Amanda Evans, a physician for pediatric infectious disease at UT Southwestern and Children’s in Dallas, has seen kids need intensive care and even ventilators because of COVID-19 over the past two years. “I think that we now have given an opportunity for parents to have a tool to prevent hospitalizations and ER visits,” she said.

Doctors from Children’s Health in Dallas and the Dallas County Health and Human Services department recommend kids between 6 months and 5 years old receive the COVID-19 vaccine, following the Centers for Disease Control’s endorsement this weekend.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) both recently endorsed vaccinations for kids between 6 months and 5 years old.

For providers at Children’s Health in Dallas, they want to emphasize the safety and importance of getting kids vaccinated.

“This was the major gap in our vaccine strategy, that we couldn’t immunize very young children and protect them from the COVID virus,” said Jeffrey Kahn, the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Health in Dallas. “From a pediatric perspective, we know young children can and do get infected.”

In Texas, more than 440,000 kids 10 and under have gotten the virus since the pandemic’s start, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Nationally, 442 kids 4 and under have died from the virus since January 2020.

“COVID-19 is now one of the leading causes of death among children 0 to 4 years,” said Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services. “This is still a very serious thing to consider for younger kids.”

Kahn said the virus’s ability to spread is decreased as more people get vaccinated and have immunity. That’s important as new strains appear.

“It’s got the capacity to change, and change rapidly, and change dramatically,” he said. “We should heed that warning and say, ‘All right, let’s get everybody immunized because we don’t know when the next variant is going to emerge.’”

Huang with Dallas County Health and Human Services said even if kids or families have had the virus, it’s time to get vaccinated.

“Prior infection may not provide broad protection against these new variants that are circulating,” he said. “Even if the child has had a prior infection, get the vaccine, it's still important to do that.”

The Pfizer vaccine for kids under 5 will be administered in three doses while Moderna will be in two. For kids who are 5, both vaccine series will be two doses.

The CDC reports that vaccines will be available at pharmacies, health departments and clinics this week. Tarrant County Public Health is beginning to administer vaccines to kids under 5 years old starting on June 22 at public health locations and clinics in Lake Worth, Fort Worth, Arlington and Watauga. Dallas County Health and Human Services is offering the vaccine at clinics by appointment in Dallas, Farmers Branch and Irving.

Khan encourages families to vaccinate their kids sooner rather than later, as the virus continues to change.

“We don’t have to look too far back to learn some lessons from this pandemic,” he said. “The omicron variant was first announced in late November of 2021. Within a few weeks, the virus was widely circulating in the United States, and a few weeks after that, we were seeing numbers in the children’s hospitals that far surpassed anything we had seen during the pandemic. If you wait for the next variant to emerge to immunize your children, it may be too late.”

Got a tip? Email Elena Rivera at erivera@kera.org and Pablo Arauz Peña at parauzpena@kera.org. You can follow Elena on Twitter @elenaiswriting.

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