Austin leaders’ communication strategy for launching COVID-19 vaccine once it is approved for young children

AUSTIN (KXAN) – As Austin Public Health announced Tuesday the area is transition to Stage 3 COVID-19 risk-based guidelines, questions remain about getting the youngest in the population vaccinated.

At a joint APH briefing Tuesday with Travis County commissioners and members of the Austin City Council, local leaders expressed a desire to make the Pfizer vaccine – once emergency use permission is obtained for children ages 5-11 – easily accessible for families.

Travis County Judge Andy Brown told his own children’s pediatrician’s office the Pfizer vaccine was not available. He is worried because that particular vaccine must go through a mixing process.

“As we all know the joy of Pfizer, compared to Moderna, is really hard to prepare,” Brown told his colleagues, who asked if they would like to further discuss a program to prepare vaccines and distribute them to pediatrician’s office.

Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion added that he would like to see the county partner with local school districts to vaccinate most children through their schools.

Many Austin City Council members have suggested schools offer vaccines during school hours and allow parents to sign permission slips to get the shot, such as shooting the flu. The idea is to make it easier for working families to arrange for their children to be vaccinated.

“Some of the feedback I hear from my community is the need for some kind of neglect in school settings so that children can be vaccinated without the parent being physically present,” council member explained. Vanessa Fuentes. “Having a process in place where parents can sign a waiver to allow their child to be vaccinated while at school is something that has been discussed.”

Dr. Louis Appel, president-elect of the Texas Pediatrics Society, told KXAN the enrollment process to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine is different from the process to enroll in the state’s current pediatric immunization program, which could complicate the process. for some doctors’ offices.

However, he said a good number of pediatrician offices already offer the Pfizer vaccine to older children ages 12-17. He expects both if and when the vaccine will be available to younger children.

“I think there will be a mix. There will be some physician offices that offer it and some that don’t,” Appel said, adding, “even if some physician offices don’t offer it, there will be other places where it is available to the community. “

In the meantime, he urges families with children to continue to be vigilant and take precautionary measures.

“Even in Stage 3, it is very important for everyone to be careful and take appropriate precautions. And I think in particular, when it comes to school, and the younger age groups where kids haven’t been vaccinated, there’s really no change. “

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