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Central Ohio Health Centers Prepare to Vaccinate Thousands of Kids Five and Older

Air Force Senior Airman Antoinette Fowler shows a 4-year-old how to give a vaccination during a teddy bear clinic at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
Ilka Cole
U.S. Air Force
A member of the U.S. Air Force shows a child how to give a vaccination during a teddy bear clinic at an air force base in Florida. All Ohio kids aged five to 11 are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

The CDC approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged five to 11 years old on Tuesday, and health centers are preparing to make shots available to the 125,000 kids in Franklin County now eligible.

Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said the Columbus Department of Health and most of their partners each ordered around 600 doses. In a few days, they will order more and hope to begin making appointments.

“We made our order for the vaccine about a week or so ago, and we got our shipment yesterday. So, just in time for the approval,” Roberts said. “So, the vaccine is here. And again, we just need to do a few housekeeping matters, and then we’ll be able to offer the vaccine to the public.”

Nationwide Children’s Hospital will host its first COVID-19 vaccine clinic for about 50 kids aged five to 11 on Wednesday evening and will hold 400 appointments each day at its clinic starting on Monday. A website for the hospital allows people to begin booking appointments.

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center spokesperson Marti Leitch said that OSU patients can begin receiving doses next week and should go through their normal pediatric clinic to schedule.

“We will also have some evening availability at our vaccine clinic located at the Ackerman Road complex,” Leitch said.

Roberts said she is confident that Columbus will be able to meet vaccine demand for the new age group.

“I believe supply is going to be more than sufficient here in our community, and I also am confident we can always get more if need be,” she said.

Roberts said vaccinating kids five to 11 protects not only them, but everyone they come in contact with, including parents, grandparents, and people with underlying health conditions.

“I just want to remind everyone that this vaccine is safe and effective, and if it wasn’t, I would not be recommending it,” Roberts said. “And although not many kids get severely ill with COVID-19, they can spread the virus to others.”

Roberts added that she encourages families who want to get their kids vaccinated to contact their pediatrician. Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) echoed this recommendation in a statement and added that families can also contact their local pharmacy to be vaccinated.

FCPH said that a large number of providers are expected to have the vaccine. The department stated that vaccination remains the best way to prevent serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19 and that the Pfizer vaccine was thoroughly tested and has been through multiple review processes before it was approved for kids five and up.

“Parents and caregivers with questions should talk with their child’s healthcare provider and visit reputable websites like FCPH, the Ohio Department of Health, the CDC, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” the statement said.

Dr. Miller Sullivan, Franklin County Public Health’s medical director, said vaccinating children against COVID-19 will bring the county closer to a sense of normalcy, and Joe Mazzola, the county’s health commissioner, said the vaccine will provide extra safety for families.

“Getting our children vaccinated now will keep them safe during the upcoming holidays, remain in school and will offer additional protection to our community,” Mazzola said.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff at a press conference Wednesday also urged parents to make appointments now if they want their kids to be protected before the holiday season. Vanderhoff said last week that all of the kids who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ohio’s children’s hospitals are unvaccinated.

The Ohio Department of Health posted on social media on Wednesday morning that Ohio children ages 5 and older can schedule an appointment at gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. The vaccine will be available for kids in that age group in all of Ohio’s 88 counties.

The expanded eligibility authorized by the CDC on Tuesday will now allow Ohio to expand its Vax-to-School drawing to include those aged five to 25. Awards include five $100,000 scholarships and 50 $10,000 scholarships to any Ohio college, university, technical school, trade school or career program.

Families can call Columbus Public Health at 614-645-1519 for more information about the vaccine.

To find the complete list of available locations in Franklin County, visit gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-427-5634.