INDIANAPOLIS — Health departments in central Indiana have been preparing for weeks in advance of the expected approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old.
Officials say they are having to adapt to meet the needs of the particular age group.
The Monroe County Health Department will be setting up clinics at Monroe County Community Schools and Richland-Bean Blossom Community Schools. Those clinics will be open to all children ages 5-11 regardless of where they go to school.
“What feedback we get from parents in one of the reasons we can meet for years now is that it’s very convenient for parents,” Monroe County Health Department Administrator Penny Caudill said. “Nothing is done without their consent they’ve got to do all the paperwork that got to give consent, but they don’t have to takeoff work, pull their child from school to go get that appointment we can take care of it while they’re in school.”
Caudill says they will also be asking the state for a mobile vaccine clinic along with expanding hours at its public health clinic.
“We are making some adaptations to those hours. More evenings, expanded Saturday hours and those will be coming as well,” Caudill said.
Madison County says they’ve received 300 pediatric doses of the vaccine. Health Department Administrator Stephenie Mellinger says they have already expanded hours at their vaccine clinic to include nighttime hours two days a week.
“We do testing on Saturdays eight to noon,” Mellinger said. “We don’t have appointments available for vaccinations on Saturdays, however if people come in on Saturdays for vaccines we don’t turn them away.”
Mellinger says they’re prepared to partner with area schools if they request a vaccine clinic at their building.
“We have an individual who will work directly with the schools and not just with vaccines but with contact tracing basic education whatever it is that they need,” Mellinger said. “The intention there is to coordinate vaccination clinics at the school system should they request it.”
Other counties, like Hamilton County, are still planning their next steps. Hamilton County is planning to expand capacity at its current vaccination site at the 4-H fairgrounds. A spokesperson says they are discussing plans to potentially add more hours and possibly a weekend day.
Whatever method children use to get vaccinated, health officials stressed that they must have their parents consent first.
“Just because there may be a vaccination clinic say on a Thursday evening at a school system it doesn’t mean a child can just walk up and get vaccine without a parents consent,” Mellinger said.
Assuming the shot is approved, The Indiana Department of Health says that starting at 8 A.M. Thursday the vaccine scheduling system will include a new pin that will show which vaccine sites have the pediatric doses.
To make an appointment for your child you can visit state vaccine website as early as Thursday.
Parents who may have questions about giving the vaccine to their children can submit those questions here. Then Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., CBS4’s Angela Brauer will be joined by Dr. Veronica Vernon from Butler University to answer those questions during a Facebook Live.