OHA: Oregon parents, kids can be confident in Pfizer vax


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Echoing federal and regional health officials, the Oregon Health Authority expressed confidence Wednesday in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

OHA is expected to inform health care providers that vaccinations for 5- to 11-year olds can now begin in the state.

The state’s epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger, said officials estimate there are 330,000 children ages 5 to 11 in Oregon who are eligible for the vaccine.

Earlier, a key scientific safety group in the Western U.S. announced that its members unanimously agree the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children aged 5 to 11, further paving the way for kids in Oregon and Washington to start receiving the vaccine.

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed their review and gave a stamp of approval after a CDC panel issued their approval Tuesday night. An FDA panel approved the lower-dose COVID-19 vaccine for kids last Friday.

The workgroup confirmed their findings to the governors of Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada on Wednesday morning.

“With today’s review by leading health experts, Oregon parents and children can be confident in the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,” Sidelinger said. “Getting vaccinated is the surest path toward putting this pandemic behind us, once and for all.”

With this approval, 28 million American children ages 5 to 11 are eligible for the shot. Some kids have already started getting their doses in other states.

“This is great news for Oregon children, parents, and families,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a statement. “Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones. With today’s review by leading doctors, pediatricians, and health experts, Oregon parents and children can be confident in the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 5-to-11-year-olds. It is completely normal for parents and kids to have questions about vaccines –– I urge you to reach out to your family doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist and get your questions answered today.”

Earlier this week, the OHA reported they are expecting around 120,000 shots will arrive in Oregon by the end of the week.

Vaccination events in Oregon

On Wednesday, health officials said there are “significantly more” vaccines available for children ages 5 to 11 than there were for adults earlier in 2021. OHA does not expect there to be a similar level of scarcity, and officials predict supplies will meet demand even in population centers like the Portland area.

More than 350 pharmacies, clinics, community health centers, hospitals and school-based health centers have already received or will receive an initial supply of vaccine doses through the Saturday, OHA said.

Washington is expecting to get more than 300,000 shots within the same timeframe.

Vaccination events in Washington

“Parents can breathe a sigh of relief that their kids can also be vaccinated against the deadly COVID-19 virus,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “This gets us a step closer to having the entire population of Washington eligible for the vaccine. And a step closer to finding our way out of this pandemic.”

The news is coming as a relief for some parents of children with auto-immune diseases.

Child doses will be given out by primary care providers and small clinics. Walgreens is reporting it will begin administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to kids nationwide this Saturday. 

At least eight Portland Public Schools will be hosting clinics over the next few weeks.

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