PHOENIX (AP) - Children in Arizona as young as 12 can get a COVID-19 vaccine when receiving other immunizations, health officials said on May 21.
Dr. Cara Christ, director of the state Department of Health Services, said pediatricians, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, can administer the Pfizer vaccine alongside other childhood vaccines. Previously, the CDC had recommended children wait two weeks in between vaccinations.
The hope is to further reduce "potential missed opportunities to vaccinate," Christ said during a virtual media briefing. Furthermore, parents need to make sure children are caught up on childhood immunizations in general because fewer were sought during the pandemic.
Christ also expressed optimism that the Pfizer vaccine would be approved for children ages 2-11 by September.
Over 5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses already administered
Overall, more than 5.6 million vaccine doses have been given out in the state. Roughly 3.2 million people, or 44.3% of Arizona’s eligible population, have received at least one dose. Around 2.7 million are fully vaccinated.
"That’s very good, and we continued to increase the number of those who are fully vaccinated," said Christ.
The state dashboard on Friday reported 577 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 22 more deaths. The total number of pandemic cases and deaths now stands at 875,766 and 17,531, respectively.
The in-patient hospitalizations because of the virus decreased slightly to 581. Of those, 167 were patients in the ICU.
The seven-day rolling average of Arizona’s daily virus cases was 575.3 as of Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The seven-day rolling average of daily virus-related deaths was 10.1.
Christ says cases are plateauing, and a number of reasons are contributing to this. One of the reasons is that 12 to 15-year-olds are eligible to get vaccinated.
Vaccine demand low at present
Vaccine demand at present, however, has been low statewide. Arizona at its peak doled out between 60,000 to 80,000 doses daily, according to Christ. In recent days, around 20,000 doses have been administered. As a result, the hours and days of operations at some state vaccine PODs will be modified.
A pop-up vaccination clinic for children planned for Saturday in Phoenix’s largely Latino Maryvale neighborhood will mark a renewed effort to get to underserved communities.
The Arizona Department of Health Services said people will be going door-to-door to educate residents about vaccines and distribute yard signs.
Christ also talked about the need for vaccine booster shots, as news emerge that such shots will be needed.
While researchers are still trying to determine when exactly booster shots will be needed, by the time it is needed, the avenue in which a person can get the booster shot may be different.
"It would be more likely to be at the doctor, pharmacy level, which is similar to how people can get their annual flu vaccine," said Christ.
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CDC Website for COVID-19
https://espanol.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html (In Spanish/En Español)
AZDHS Website for COVID-19