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Idaho health officials celebrate arrival of pediatric vaccine

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Idaho medical providers can now administer the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine. That's after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky gave the sign-off Tuesday evening.

Earlier in the day, Idaho health officials celebrated the news that the CDC’s advisory board voted in favor of recommending the pediatric Pfizer vaccine.

"Today is an exciting day for us in the immunization program," said Sarah Leeds, the manager of the Idaho Immunization Program.

More than 23,400 doses of the vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds have been shipped to Idaho doctors and 11,400 doses arrived on Tuesday. Additional shipments are on the way to doctors’ offices, health districts and pharmacies.

Some Idaho doctors' officers are warning they might not have appointments to give the pediatric vaccine until next week.

“It takes a few days for them to receive their inventory, finalize their clinic procedures and train their staff on the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine administration," Leeds said.

This pediatric vaccine has a lower dosage than the adult one and different storage requirements. But like the adult version, there are two shots, three weeks apart.

In Tuesday’s media briefing, doctors said kids are less likely to get severely ill from COVID-19, but it still poses a risk to them.

“Right now, roughly 7% of the COVID-19 cases reported each week during October were among children between the ages of 5 and 11," said Dr. Kathryn Turner, deputy state epidemiologist.

Children are also at risk of Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) — a rare inflammatory condition associated with COVID-19 that can affect the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs. There have been 37 MIS-C cases in Idaho over the course of the pandemic, and doctors say they've been in kids who are otherwise healthy.

Doctors said the risks from getting COVID-19 are far greater than any potential risks from the vaccine.

“Vaccines have really emerged as the most important tool we can use to prevent severe COVID disease, and I am very excited about the likelihood that we will be able to offer vaccines to a younger age group," said Dr. Lisa Barker, a pediatrician at the St. Luke’s children’s hospital in Meridian, during Tuesday's briefing.

Idaho health officials said they’re prepared to answer questions parents have about this vaccine.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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