(CBS4) – The CDC’s approval of vaccines for children ages 5 through 11 on Tuesday had many parents in Colorado moving ahead with their plans.
“I had my phone blowing up asking when is that link coming out I can’t wait to get my children signed up,” said Laura-Anne Cleveland, associate chief nursing officer at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.
Many families are seeking vaccines right away for children at risk of COVID-19.
“We’ve been dying to get it done for months, said Angela Howard, about her 7-year-old daughter Laura Fischer. Laura goes to school at Twain Elementary in Littleton. Some of her day, she cannot be in the classroom with other children because of the risk of contracting the virus.
“Laura has a rare genetic disorder that causes muscular dystrophy as well as other issues. Intellectual issues, that sort of thing,” said Angela.
But she has other problems as well.
“Laura’s muscle weakness makes it so she can’t cough effectively. So respiratory viruses, any respiratory virus, can put Laura in the ICU. When she had the flu she was in the hospital for 19 days.”
Doctors, nurses and other medical experts are a regular part of their lives. Angela has paid attention to the vaccine and its safety.
“Laura’s immunologist isn’t concerned about it. We’re not concerned about it. Our nurses aren’t concerned about it.”
On Friday, Laura will become one of Colorado’s vaccinated under 12. The CDC’s director, Rachel Walensky signed off on the Pfizer vaccine for children 5-11 Tuesday, only hours after the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices sent the recommendation forward.
All over Colorado, parents have been watching and waiting. The State of Colorado has ordered 170,000 doses of the reduced amounts of the vaccine to get started.
Not all will want it. A recent poll by the research firm, Marketing for Change shows a little over 50% of families want to get the vaccine for their children, but nearly a third of parents say they will not. The rest remain undecided.
“I get that fear. I get that hesitation. I’m a mom of five,” said Cleveland, who’s two older children are already vaccinated. “I already have my three youngest signed up to get the pediatric and the children vaccine.”
Two studies on children in the age group showed positive effects. There has been some evidence of the rare occurrence of myocarditis in people under 30, but no reported deaths. More than 170 children have died from COVID-19. The dosage is one-third of the adult dose. It will be given three weeks apart like the adult dose.
Cleveland explained how it would work at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.
“You come in, there’s going to be seven vaccinators from the state. There are definitely going to be candy stickers, kids band aids, all the things that should be present, if I have child has to get a poke.
They plan to have areas for children who have a tough time dealing with needles as they do with other vaccines.
There will be vaccinations for children in many places. Stride Community Health has been working on plans to vaccinate children for some time.
“We’ve had a lot of our providers talking to our patients about it, kind of getting them comfortable because we realized that,” said Allison Dreeyer, Stride’s director of community care. “It’s going to take a little bit for people to feel comfortable and so we’ve been wanting to talk to families for a while.”
They will work with schools and provide vaccinations at its clinics.
“There can be a lot of hype around it and there can be a lot of fear and anxiety and some we just want to do what we can to educate and help them to make the best choice for them and their children.”
Denver Public Schools plan to offer vaccinations at its school based health centers.
For Angela Howard, the importance of a vaccine means a lot to her daughter’s education.
“It’s hard to send her to school because of the risks, but you know we’ve discussed this with her doctors and she needs the services she gets at school… we’re not special education teachers. We do our best.”
But two children in her class tested positive along with one educator who was vaccinated, but had a breakthrough case.
“It feels like this fall has just been one near miss after another and Friday can’t come soon enough.”
She has heard people suggesting her daughter should not be in school.
“Hearing people say you should stay home or your child should stay home is very hurtful, because it harkens back to those days when people with disabilities were warehoused in facilities and we’ve come beyond that… Laura loves going to school with her friends. She loves going to Girl Scout meetings with her friends.”
After Laura gets the vaccine, her mother hopes she can see family members they’ve met only outside. Laura has not sat with many of them.
“Having to keep her away from things she loves because other people won’t simple precaution like wearing a mask or getting a vaccine is, it’s harmful for her and it’s hard for our family very isolating.”
Maybe by the Holidays Angela hopes, things will be different.
“We’re hopeful that she will have both doses and that we will have an antibody study to know that the vaccine works in time for Christmas. That would be the best Christmas gift we could get.”
Denver Schools parents can visit denverhealth.org or call 303-602-8958 for more information on the vaccinations for children.
The State also has a vaccine finder tool at this site: comassvax.org/appointment/en/clinic/