Multnomah County’s first 4,500 COVID-19 vaccines for younger children arrived in Portland Tuesday morning, as the U.S. rolls out the next phase in its mass-vaccination campaign.
The FedEx shipment of vaccines was delivered in foam insulating boxes packed with dry ice to keep doses ultra-cold, was less than the 10,000 doses Multnomah County Public Health requested, but more shipments are expected in the weeks ahead.
The county’s first doses will be allocated a variety of ways, including via student health clinics and public health clinics that serve people of color or that target communities facing barriers to vaccination such as language and work schedules.
In an online session on Tuesday, Oregon Health Authority State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger answered questions about the vaccine for kids ages 5-11.
“By our estimates there are approximately 330,000 youth within that age group are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Sidelinger said. “This is welcome news for younger children and their parents because it gives more people the opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19.”
Sidelinger said that pediatric cases have accounted for 15% of all cases, adding case rates among children in Oregon have been at their highest in recent months.
“Live vaccines are recommended for these younger children between 5 and 11, “ Sidelinger said. “Our recent pediatric cases are highest among that age group.”
Sidelinger says that adverse effects in children during trials were rare and mild.
“In the clinical trial, reactions were mild, self limited, similar to those seen in adolescents and adults and with other vaccines routinely recommended for children,” Sidelinger said. “And they were less common in those 5-11 than older children and adults between 16 and 25 years old.”
The Oregon Health Authority is encouraging people who want to schedule appointments for younger children, who were recently granted access to the Pfizer vaccine, to find clinics and other opportunities through the Get Vaccinated Oregon website.
The journey of these younger children’s vaccine doses from manufacturer to clinic was carefully monitored along the way. Shipments are packed with tracking devices that monitor the journey.
When the boxes are unpacked and put into the ultra-cold storage necessary to maintain their effectiveness, officials turn off tracking devices. Pfizer then analyzes the package data to ensure that the vaccines have been adequately stored and are safe for use.