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Arkansas’ progress on child covid-19 vaccinations, explained

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Nyssa Kruse | November 11, 2021 at 3:16 p.m.
Arkansas Department of Health Communicable Disease Nurse Specialist Angela Hopton administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Ansley Johnson, 10, of Little Rock, on the first day the shots for children age 5-11 were administered in Arkansas. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Andy Davis)

This story is a part of The Article, your guide to Arkansas news and culture, presented by the Democrat-Gazette. Sign up for The Article's weekly newsletter here or to see stories that have appeared in past newsletters, go here.

Thousands of Arkansas children have been immunized against covid-19 since a pediatric version of the Pfizer vaccine was approved last week for kids ages 5-11. 

Doses are still expected to come into the state this week and be distributed to providers.

What makes the pediatric vaccine different?

The formulation and training for healthcare workers is different for the pediatric vaccine than it is for the vaccine for those 12 and older, said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, chief medical officer for the Health Department.

The vaccine has to be diluted and the dose given is different.

How many doses does the state have?

The state was expecting to receive about 95,100 kid-sized doses last week, but 28,500 doses still had not been delivered as of Wednesday.

Of the pediatric vaccine already received, 38,100 doses went to the local health units around the state and the remaining 28,500 were distributed to the federal Vaccines for Children Program participants, which include some pharmacies and the majority of the state's pediatric clinics.

How many kids have been vaccinated so far?

At least 4,934 Arkansas children ages 5-11 have received the covid-19 vaccine since Nov. 3, after the vaccine was given the go-ahead by federal authorities, Health Department spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill said.

That means that nearly 2% of the state's estimated 271,000 children ages 5-11 have been vaccinated.

There is also a lag in reporting and the actual number of doses administered is likely higher, McNeill said. 

How can parents get their children vaccinated?

Dillaha recommends parents call the clinic where they typically get their child vaccinated to see if they have the covid-19 vaccine, or plan on distributing pediatric vaccines.

They can also call 1-800-803-7847 or visit vaccines.gov to find clinics that have the pediatric vaccine.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital also has vaccine appointments which can be reserved at archildrens.org/getmyvaccine.

All county health units also have children’s doses available.

Read more on the progress of children’s vaccinations from reporter Jeannie Roberts and get details on how parents can get their children vaccine appointments, from reporter Brianna Kwasnik.

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