In Short

Gov. Brown says Covid-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds can begin today

By: - November 3, 2021 11:24 am
A syringe

Gov. Kate Brown has approved Covid-19 shots for children. (Mat Napo/Unsplash)

Gov. Kate Brown gave the go-ahead Wednesday for the vaccination of 5- to 11-year-olds against Covid-19.

Her announcement follows approval from the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for younger children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which includes immunization experts from Oregon, Washington, Nevada and California, also approved it. The workgroup met Tuesday night.

“This is great news for Oregon children, parents and families,” Brown said in a statement. “With today’s review by leading doctors, pediatricians and health experts, Oregon parents and children can be confident in the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds.”

In anticipation of a green light, Pfizer began shipping millions of the shots to clinics and pharmacies across the country. The dose for children is one-third the strength of the regular dose and has an orange cap to distinguish it from the purple-capped doses for adolescents and adults.

Oregon began preparing last month for the vaccine’s rollout. Doses have been distributed to pediatric and family clinics and pharmacies. The state is hoping through community vaccination events to draw groups who’ve been the most affected by the pandemic, including Blacks and other people of color.

Pfizer shots for children aged 12 to 15 were approved for emergency use by the FDA in early May but it has not yet given the green light to Moderna’s vaccine for those aged 12 to 17 over concerns about side effects.

In Oregon, more than 60% of teens between 12 and 17 have been vaccinated against Covid-19, state data show. State officials hope to surpass that rate for the younger age group.

“We know children are at lower risk of serious illness, but they also have been so terribly impacted by this pandemic,” said Dr. Kristen Dillon, a family physician and senior advisor for the Covid response and recovery unit at the Oregon Health Authority.

In getting vaccinated, they’ll be able to take part in school activities and see friends and relatives they’ve stayed away from out of fear of infecting others, she said. 

People who are vaccinated can spread the virus, but they are less likely to become infected than the unvaccinated, scientists say.

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Lynne Terry
Lynne Terry

Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years.