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Thousands of children on UW Medicine's COVID-19 vaccine waitlist

UW medicine announced it has 5,700 child-size doses in cold storage at Harborview.

SEATTLE — Less than 24 hours after getting federal approval, UW Medicine administered the first COVID-19 shots to children 5 to 11 years old.

A vaccination event in Shoreline on Wednesday was just the first of many to come aimed at making the shot available to the youngest age group to date.

The healthcare provider said, to date, more than 9,300 people are on a waitlist to have their children vaccinated.

“I’m feeling kind of like, I’m excited but nervous,” said 10-year-old Violet Rowe. “A lot of the kids in my class they want to - I think they want to - get it, but they are also nervous."

Rowe was among the first children 11 and younger to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during the event at Shoreline Community College.

“I want to get my vaccine because I can feel safer and I can see more people and be less cautious, I guess," said Audrey Smith, 10.

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U.S. health officials approved the Pfizer vaccine for the youngest age group to date Tuesday. A recommendation from CDC advisers was followed by a greenlight from the director of the CDC.

In anticipation, UW Medicine announced it had 5,700 child-size doses in cold storage at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The vaccine for younger children is one-third the dose given to older children and adults and is administered with smaller needles. The vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart. Children won't be considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after their second dose.

A Pfizer study of 2,268 children found the vaccine was nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections.

Some have questioned the need for children to get vaccinated because they are less likely to develop severe symptoms than adults. However, that has changed with the delta variant, with children getting infected and transmitting the virus just as much as adults.

“I say, this is the time to do it. We don’t want to delay. We don’t need any more evidence. We know that these vaccines work, that they are safe for children and for adults, and we know that severe COVID in children is an actual possibility,” said Dr. Shiressha Dhanireddy, an infectious disease specialist with UW Medicine.

Dhanireddy brought her son to the vaccine event and he received his first dose.

Health officials are asking for patience from parents as plans are already in place for school districts and pharmacies to assist with the rollout. 

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