Kaiser Permanente will open COVID-19 vaccine appointments for kids Thursday

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Children with Kaiser Permanente health care will soon be able to roll up their sleeves for a COVID-19 shot. It follows Tuesday's official recommendation from the CDC for Pfizer's vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11.

"Parents can kind of take a collective sigh of relief," said Dr. Keedra McNeill, a Kaiser Permanente pediatrician.

Health officials with Kaiser Permanente of Northern California said appointments can be booked for kids 5 to 11 as early as November 4. They expect vaccine administration to start next Monday, November 8.

However, according to Dr. McNeill, they are still waiting on their allotment from the State. The exact amount is unknown right now.

"If we receive our allocations sooner, then we hope to begin that process sooner so that we can get that protection in line for our youngest members," Dr. McNeill said.

She added that families should expect to receive an email or phone call with more information about the vaccine.

Health officials recommend parents getting their child vaccinated as soon as possible.

According to Dr. McNeill, parents with an 11-year-old should not wait until their child turns 12 years old for the higher dosage. She said it's important to start the protection now.

"Unfortunately, we have seen cases in adults where someone books their appointment and then a few days before their appointment, they actually get COVID-19," she said.

Kaiser Permanente played a critical role in the development and distribution of the vaccine, offering clinical trials to members and patients.

Dr. Nicola Klein was the principal investigator in Pfizer's pediatric vaccine trial in Northern California. She explained the side effects were the same as adolescents and adults -- fatigue, muscle ache and headaches, but they don't last long.

Dr. Klein understands some parents' hesitancy to get their child vaccinated, but says it is safe for the age group.

"It looks like it protects children very well, and there were no hospitalizations," said Dr. Klein.

Kaiser will be continuously monitoring the vaccine, once in children's arms.
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