‘I want to stay very healthy’: RI begins vaccinating younger children against COVID-19


CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The first COVID-19 vaccinations were given to children ages 5-11 in Rhode Island Thursday morning as they are now eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

Shots started going into children’s arms at Cranston’s mass vaccination site at 7 a.m. Appointments went online Wednesday afternoon with slots posted through the end of November.

The Sockanosset Cross Road clinic is already fully booked through the beginning of next week.

A number of families visited the site to get their children vaccinated including the Fergusons from Richmond. They told 12 News they logged onto VaccinateRI.org as soon as appointments opened up to sign their daughter Emma up to get her shot.

“Vaccines are very important to keep you healthy and I want to stay very healthy,” Emma said.

Emma was not only one of the first children to get the shot in the state, but she’s also one of the youngest at 5 years old.

“I think we’ve been waiting a long time to try to give another level of protection to our 5-year-old,” her mom Brittni said. “We have a younger daughter as well and she’s not quite old enough yet, but we knew as soon as it was approved that we wanted to do that for our kids.”

Other than mass vaccination sites, the kid-sized vaccine is also available at various pharmacies, school clinics, and doctor’s offices.

AJ’s Pharmacy in Providence was also offering the pediatric vaccine Thursday, where head pharmacist Charles Agwunobi says he had as many as 60 appointments scheduled for the first day, including in his own family.

“As soon as I opened the door, they were all over, excited to get the vaccination,” Agwunobi said.

“As soon as I started giving the vaccination, they were so happy, they just want to get it done, and want to help to fight this pandemic,” he added.

As a father to two boys, a five-year-old and 11-year-old, Agwunobi is hopeful this next wave of vaccines will lead to fewer disruptions in schools.

“Now with the vaccinations, that should help to make the kids stay in school and the parents do what they have to do for their family,” he said. “I’m so excited, I just want them to be healthy so I don’t have to worry about them getting sick or hospitalized.”

Health experts say Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine was determined to be 90.7% effective against COVID-19 and no significant safety issues were identified.

The children’s vaccine is a third of the dose given to adults and requires two doses three weeks apart.

When booking an appointment, health officials warned parents to make sure it’s for the right age group, since a young child cannot receive the adult vaccine.

Children who get vaccinated before Thanksgiving will be fully vaccinated by Christmas, officials noted.

The most recent data from the R.I. Department of Health shows 71.5% of the state’s population is now fully vaccinated.

Rhode Island has started to see an increase in two key metrics in recent days, according to the data: COVID-19 hospitalizations are up to 106 (from a recent low of 92 last week) and the rate of new cases per 100,000 people over the previous seven days was at 153 as of Thursday. That rate, which is used to track community transmission of the virus, fell below 130 last week.

The Health Department also reported 294 new cases on Thursday and a 2.1% daily positivity rate, however, no additional COVID-19-related deaths were disclosed for the second straight day.

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