Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's formal recommendation Tuesday evening, all Louisiana children ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“As LDH Secretary and as a mother, I am excited and relieved that CDC has recommended all children ages 5 and above get the COVID-19 vaccine,” LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney N. Phillips said. “My son, Langston, may be even more excited. He’s been ready to go sleeves up and will be getting his shot as soon as possible.
"Parents have fought hard to keep their children safe throughout the pandemic. This is a big day for families of young children in Louisiana, especially as we enter the holiday season.”
Prior to this announcement, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was recommended and authorized for people ages 12 and older.
Following CDC’s recommendation, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reviewed CDC guidance and has alerted all vaccine providers for children in the state that they can begin administering the Pfizer pediatric vaccine immediately.
“This is exactly the news we’ve been waiting to hear, and I’m especially glad that the best protection we have against COVID-19 is now being afforded to our children ages 5-11,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said.
“Sharing this life-saving vaccine with our children is a huge step forward and provides us all with more confidence and optimism about the future,” American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Lee Savio Beers said in a news release. “Pediatricians are eager to participate in the immunization process and talk with families about this vaccine. We want to ensure that access to this vaccine is equitable, and that every child is able to benefit.”
Where and how do I get my child vaccinated?
For a person younger than age 18, parental/caregiver consent is needed to get the shot. LDH has developed a consent form that can be found on its website at ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/page/4023.
Families should contact their local vaccine provider to confirm they have the COVID-19 pediatric vaccine because it is in the process of being shipped and some providers may not receive their initial shipments until later in the week or possibly next week.
Families can call 211 or the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 with general questions or to find a vaccination location near them that has ordered COVID-19 pediatric vaccine.
In the coming days, the federal vaccine finder Vaccines.gov will be updated with pediatric vaccine search capability.
What is the risk of COVID-19 to children?
COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, MIS-C (a multi-inflammatory syndrome in children) and long-term complications, such as “long COVID,” in which symptoms can linger for months.
The spread of the Delta variant resulted in a surge of COVID-19 cases in children throughout the summer. During a six-week period in late June to mid-August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased fivefold.
COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Louisiana. Since the beginning of August, 25% of all new COVID-19 cases in Louisiana were in children.
LDH reported 9 pediatric deaths tied to the recent Delta surge alone. A total of 18 children in Louisiana have died of COVID since the pandemic began.
"If you look at the viruses that have been problematic enough to lead to widespread vaccine adoption, COVID is about three times as deadly (for children), just in this past year alone," said State Health Officer Dr. Joe Kanter during a virtual press conference Wednesday. "It does affect kids. The notion that it doesn't affect kids in any substantial way really has been disproven at this point in time."
Nationally, according to the FDA, at least 94 children ages 5 to 11 have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and 8,300 have become so sick they needed to be hospitalized.
In fact, COVID was the eighth leading cause of death in the age group over the past year, after accidents, cancer, malformations, murder, heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, and flu or pneumonia.
What if you have more questions?
Families can call the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-855-453-0774 to find a provider in their area and to speak to medical professionals with clinical experience who can help answer their questions.