Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced that Rhode Island is expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination today to children 5 to 11 years of age. Last night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended vaccination for children in this age group with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

More from a press release from the Rhode Island Department of Health;

COVID-19 vaccine is effective and safe. Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The formulation of the vaccine for younger children was studied and reviewed extensively before federal health officials authorized its use. It was determined to be 90.7% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 disease in children 5 to 11, and no significant safety issues were identified.

“The approval of the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds is the next big step towards protecting all Rhode Islanders from COVID-19,” said Governor Dan McKee. “With more than 90% of adult Rhode Islanders at least partially vaccinated, Rhode Island is second in the nation in vaccinations. Now, it’s time for our youngest Rhode Islanders to get vaccinated too. Together, we’ll be able to vaccinate even more of the Ocean State.”

“The best way to keep your family safe when it comes to COVID-19 is to get everyone who is eligible vaccinated. That now includes children 5 to 11 years of age. There will be vaccination opportunities for children 5 to 11 in every community throughout the state,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “This vaccine has been studied and monitored very carefully. It is safe, and it works. If there is a child who is between 5 and 11 years old in your household, get that child vaccinated as soon as possible.”

When children 5 to 11 can get vaccinated

To date, 900 doses of vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old have arrived in Rhode Island. 9,900 additional doses are expected today. Thousands more doses are expected in the coming days. Because much of Rhode Island’s vaccine for this population is still in transit, vaccine may not be available in some of the settings listed below for several days.

Where will children 5 to 11 be able to get vaccinated

Please be certain that the appointment you make is for a slot for a child 5 to 11. Children 5 to 11 cannot receive the vaccine that older children and adults receive.

  • Clinics at schools – School districts are partnering with municipalities to offer more than 130 vaccination clinics for first and second doses for children 5 to 11 years old. These clinics will be held during the evening starting the week of November 7th. These clinics are open to all children 5 to 11 years old (not just the children who attend the host schools). Unless otherwise noted, vaccine will not be available for older children and adults at school clinics. A list of clinics is available at https://covid.ri.gov/5to11vaccine.
  • The offices of some primary care providers – Many pediatrician and family medicine practices are enrolled as providers of COVID-19 vaccine. Contact your child’s healthcare provider to learn if they are vaccinating younger children.
  • The State-run site at Sockanosset Cross Road – Appointments for children 5 to 11 at the Sockanosset Cross Road site in Cranston will start to become available today at 2 p.m. on VaccinateRI.org. People can also call 844-930-1779 if they need assistance scheduling an appointment.
  • Pharmacies – Vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old will be available at many CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Stop and Shop sites. Availability at these chain pharmacies is expected this weekend. Visit the websites of these pharmacies for more information. Appointment slots for independent pharmacies will be listed on VaccinateRI.org.
  • Health centers – Many health centers are doing direct outreach to their patients about vaccine availability.
  • Community clinics – Additional community clinics for children 5 to 11 will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

More detail on the vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old

The Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years of age is administered as a two-dose series, three weeks apart. Children in this age groups will receive a lower dose (10 micrograms) than the dose used for older children and adults (30 micrograms). There currently are no Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines for children 5 to 11 years old.

Ongoing safety monitoring

Pfizer has updated its safety monitoring plan to ensure that monitoring happens for health issues more common in children 5 to 11. In addition, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have several systems in place to continually monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety and allow for the rapid detection and investigation of potential safety problems. It is mandatory for Pfizer and healthcare providers to report to any serious health issues in people who were vaccinated.

COVID-19 and children

Children of all ages can become ill with COVID-19. Most children do not become as sick as adults. However, some children become severely ill with COVID-19. Children with underlying conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and asthma, may be at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, 194 children 14 and younger have been hospitalized in Rhode Island with COVID-19. Additionally, children can spread COVID-19 to the other people in their lives (who may be more vulnerable).

Facebook Live sessions

RIDOH will be hosting two Facebook Live sessions on November 8th (one in English and one in Spanish) with community pediatricians to help answer parents’ questions about COVID-19 vaccine. The English session will start at 6 p.m. The Spanish session will start at 7 p.m. More information will be shared in the coming days.

General information about COVID-19 vaccine

General information about COVID-19 vaccine is available in multiple languages at C19VaccineRI.org.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).