Social media pages lit up with enthusiastic parents seeking appointments for their grade-schoolers in the hours after the COVID-19 vaccination was formally licensed for use in younger children on Tuesday.
So it didn’t take long for some parents in the Boise area to notice that a couple of health care providers were already accepting appointments on Wednesday morning.
Dr. David Peterman, CEO of Primary Health Group, said parents seeking pediatric COVID-19 immunizations increased traffic to his company’s website early Wednesday morning. By late morning, only hours before Primary Health Group formally announced the immunizations, the website had had three times as many visitors as usual, and clinics had seen walk-in visits from parents and children seeking the vaccine.
In southwestern Idaho, Primary Health Group operates 21 family medicine and urgent care clinics. Workers at several of the organization’s clinics spent the previous several days training in preparation, which allowed for speedy vaccine distribution, according to Peterman. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is licensed for children aged 5 to 11, has a different dose and formulation than the version allowed for older patients, as well as different syringes and storage requirements. Ten days earlier, the state gave medical professionals information about the vaccine’s requirements.
More than 6 million children have been infected with COVID-19 in the United States since the pandemic began, with more than 20,000 requiring hospitalization, according to Peterman. Coronavirus has killed over 600 children in the United States.
Other health care practitioners are also informing families about the availability of pediatric immunizations. Beginning Nov. 8, appointments at Saint Alphonsus Pediatric Clinics in Boise, Caldwell, and Nampa can be arranged online.
It’s too early to say how many Idaho people will be immunized in the new group. According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, about 55 percent of all eligible Idaho citizens ages 12 and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 so far, but vaccination rates are substantially higher in older age groups and lower in younger age groups.
According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, just around 33% of 12- to 17-year-olds in Idaho are fully vaccinated.
Major minimum orders were required for the first federal vaccination shipments, making it simpler for large businesses like Primary Health Group to get early distributions. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is working to get vaccines to smaller healthcare providers, and injections will be available in such places in the coming days, according to officials.
Officials with the state’s health department predict 57,000 initial doses of the pediatric vaccination, which will cover 32.5 percent of the state’s 175,500 children aged 5 to 11.