Detroit’s 60,000 Kids Aged 5 to 11 Now Able to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot on Tuesday, expanding the vaccination campaign to children as young as 5.

Detroit officials rolled out a plan this week to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the little arms of the city’s 60,000 kids aged 5 to 11.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot on Tuesday, expanding the vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. 

The 5 to 11-year-olds will receive two low doses, three weeks apart, of the vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech — the same schedule as everyone else, but using a smaller needle. According to Dr. Carla Watson, a pediatric neurologist with Detroit Children’s Hospital, a smaller dose is needed in kids because of their strong immune system. “We have been studying this vaccine for a very long time and in children fortunately they only need a third of the dose because their response is very robust.”

“You can expect your child to be at full immunity two weeks after their second dose,” said Mayor Mike Duggan while discussing the city’s child-oriented vaccination efforts.

Inoculations by appointment only so far. Detroit’s Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair-Razo says appointment time slots will be spread out a bit to give kids, and their parents, additional processing time. “We are giving more time for each appointment to allow parents who may be full of anxiety taking their child to get vaccinated sometimes can be a traumatic experience,” she says.

Preventing Further Tragedy

In announcing the City’s vaccination rollout efforts, Duggan invoked the name of Skylar Herbert, a five-year-old Detroit girl who died of COVID-19 last year. He says vaccinating kids can help prevent tragedies. “Up until now we didn’t have any way of preventing that starting now we do.”

President Joe Biden has called the expansion of vaccine efforts to kids “a turning point.”

“It will allow parents to end months of anxious worrying about their kids, and reduce the extent to which children spread the virus to others,” he said in a statement. “It is a major step forward for our nation in our fight to defeat the virus.”

Data from the state health department show that over 400 kids are getting sick with the coronavirus daily. Currently, 75 kids are hospitalized with the disease. CDC officials calculated that for every 500,000 youngsters vaccinated, between 18,000 and 58,000 COVID-19 cases — and between 80 and 226 hospitalizations — in that age group would be prevented, depending on the pandemic’s trajectory. 

Sites across Detroit are now accepting vaccination appointments.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • Russ McNamara

    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.