Vaccine clinic

A tray of syringes are prepared and ready for healthcare workers to administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to community members on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 at the Seguin Coliseum.

Texas is set to receive about a million COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks for the nearly 3 million children in the state ages 5 to 11.

Rollout time for the pediatric Pfizer vaccine will depend on receipt of Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization, which is expected to happen in coming days, said Imelda Garcia, associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services and chair of the Texas Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel.

“I’m happy to be giving you an update about pediatric vaccines,” she said. “We expect these children to be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine very soon.”

Texas has about 2.9 million children aged 5 to 11, Garcia said. Distribution of the vaccine is expected to begin as soon as the CDC recommends its use, she said.

The federal government created a process for states to request vaccine doses before approval, which should allow distribution to happen faster than that of the initial vaccine rollout last winter, Garcia said.

FDA approval is expected in a few days and delivery is expected to begin just days after, she said Monday afternoon.

The state of Texas is set to receive allocation of about 1.3 million doses. A federal pharmacy program then is expected to send a separate number of doses directly to retail pharmacies in Texas, she said.

Pediatric vaccination of children ages 5 to 11 is important in helping reduce chances of spreading of COVID-19 in all populations, said Garcia, who added that she has a child in the age range.

“What I tell my family and friends is it’s not only for my daughter’s health and safety but vaccinating her also protects our extended loved ones,” she said. “My parents who are in their 60s and 70s, it helps protect them as well.”

Talk of disseminating pediatric vaccines comes as statewide COVID-19 infection rates and other identifiers continue to fall and show improvements, said Chris Van Deusen, Texas Department of State Health Services director of media relations.

On Monday, he said 4,078 people in Texas were hospitalized with the disease. The state’s seven-day average of new confirmed cases was 3,156, he said.

“Both of those are the lowest they have been since mid-July,” Van Deusen said. “COVID-19 deaths are also coming down: 177 per day reported to us over the last seven days.”

The state’s positivity rate — the percentage of positive tests — peaked in early August at about 18.5% but also have fallen, he said. On Monday, it sat at about 6 or 7%, he said.

Protecting against the spread of the disease, checking for a pediatrician’s recommendation and other steps are important for parents to consider having their young children vaccinated, Garcia said.

It all will help in the state’s and world’s fight against the pandemic, she said.

“It’s really important to consider weighing all those things in when you consider getting vaccinated,” Garcia said. “I can tell you my daughter will be vaccinated and I’m really excited about that.”

Dalondo Moultrie is the assistant managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at dalondo.moultrie@seguingazette.com .

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