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WHYY: Some Philadelphia Parents Scramble To Find COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments for Their Young Kids

From WHYY: Samantha Greenberg said she was overcome with emotion when she saw an Instagram post about a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for kids under 5 at the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity in North Philadelphia. While many Americans returned to their pre-pandemic lives months ago, Greenberg — who has a 14-month-old daughter, Gemma — and other parents of young, unvaccinated children have remained more cautious. Greenberg said her family has largely avoided social gatherings, and Gemma rarely went on a playdate or inside public buildings. “We started going to the playground a couple of weeks ago,” Greenberg said. “I’m still on high alert, because kids are just walking piles of germs.”
In June, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared the way for kids between the ages of 6 months and 4 years old to get vaccinated. Young children can receive either three doses of Pfizer, or two doses of Moderna (which has been shown to kick in sooner, but wane faster, than Pfizer). Some parents, like Greenberg, wanted to vaccinate their young kids as soon as possible. The vaccine’s approval was already delayed in February, when health officials decided to wait for data on a third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine. Some Philadelphia-area parents say getting immediate appointments for their children hasn’t been easy. There aren’t many mass clinics for this age group, partly because demand isn’t high, and pharmacies in most states, including Pennsylvania, are only permitted to vaccinate kids over age 3. That means pediatricians’ offices are the primary sites for vaccinating infants and toddlers. However, some Philadelphia parents say their kids’ doctors didn’t immediately have the vaccine in stock. That was the case for Greenberg, whose pediatrician’s office didn’t know when it would have the vaccine. She then tried to get an appointment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, only to find out the hospital is only vaccinating its own, current patients. When Greenberg saw the Instagram post about the clinic at the Center for Health Equity, which is run by the Black Doctors Consortium, she jumped at the opportunity. “I called my husband and I cried. I cried in the car on the way here,” Greenberg said as she sat in the waiting room. “I’m crying a little bit now, because this has been really scary, and I just haven’t wanted to roll the dice at all with her. And now I feel like she’ll have some extra layer of protection. And, even if we get COVID at this point, it will be very, very mild.” Dr. Alison Buttenheim, a professor of nursing and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said she understands the frustration of parents still waiting to find a vaccine appointment. She said health systems should be more clear in their messaging about vaccine availability. “I think parents who were told by their pediatric provider, ‘We don’t have any immediate plans,’ or, ‘We don’t yet know when it’ll be available,’ or, ‘We’re just going to do it at your kid’s next visit,’ felt like they were, again, on their own, kind of a repeat of early 2021 when we were all trying to get our parents and grandparents vaccine appointments,” Buttenheim said.
Read more at WHYY.