Updated November 24
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially endorsed the Pfizer COVID vaccine for use in children age 5 through 11 on November 2, following approval the Food and Drug Administration the previous week. Gov. Kate Brown confirmed on November 3 that the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which covers California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, had unanimously concluded that the vaccine is safe and effective, and that the Oregon Health Authority would inform health care providers that vaccinations for kids in the 5-11 age bracket could begin in Oregon that same day.
So where can your kids get vaccinated?
OHSU is scheduling appointments for children in the 5-11 bracket, which can be done online or by phone. Rite Aid pharmacies in the area are also scheduling appointments, as are Walgreens locations. Providence started offering pediatric doses at some of its pop-up clinics last week.
Multnomah County is not yet providing pediatric doses at most of its its vaccination clinics, but other county-run Student Health Centers may have pediatric doses. Washington County's mobile clinic started offering pediatric doses November 9; check out its schedule here, and note that some events are "closed" and only available to a specific group. Clackamas County is offering pediatric doses at its community mobile clinics at churches, the Clackamas Town Center, and other locations; an appointment is required.
If your student attends ones of the eight Portland Public elementary or K–8 schools set to host a vaccine clinic, the students as well as family members can get the vaccine on site. In partnership with Kaiser Permanente and Medical Teams International, clinics will be held at eight schools chosen specifically for their status as Title 1 schools and because they serve communities with "some of the highest barriers to equitable outcomes,” says PPS spokesperson Courtney Westling. The eight schools with clinics planned are Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary (620 N Fremont St), César Chávez School (5103 N Willis Blvd), Faubion School (2930 NE Dekum St), Lent Elementary (5105 SE 97th Ave), Rigler Elementary (5401 NE Prescott St), Rosa Parks Elementary (8960 N Woolsey Ave), Scott Elementary (6700 NE Prescott St), and Sitton Elementary (9930 N Smith St). Look for more information and updates at pps.net, or contact your school.
The PPS clinics will be held after dismissal and run through the evening. Students will need to be accompanied by a guardian in order to get the vaccine. While these initial clinics are targeting specific school communities, PPS plans on expanding access in the future.
The Biden administration has specifically cited pediatrician offices as the main suggested location for this age group to get vaccines, alongside pharmacies, children’s hospitals, and community centers. In Southeast Portland, Sellwood Medical Clinic is offering a drive-through vaccination option at Oaks Park; for info, see the clinic's website.
While appointments were hard to find at first, supply is not expected to be an issue, with the president’s October 20 press release stating: "The Administration has procured enough vaccine to support vaccination for the country’s 28 million children ages 5-11 years old,” including the 330,000 Oregon children in this age group.
Staffing, however, may be. “Many offices, including ours, have extreme staffing shortages,” says Dr. Resa Bradeen, chief medical officer at Metropolitan Pediatrics. “In addition, this vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds is a new dosage and new process. This meant we did not have the vaccine on hand, and we needed to train our staff in [this] new process.”
Bradeen says the community of pediatricians, public health, educators, health plans, and CCOs are all “working together to ensure vaccine is available to all that want it, especially our most marginalized and disadvantaged communities.”
The doses approved for ages 5 to 11 are 10 micrograms of the vaccine, which amounts to one-third the dosage for those over 12, with doses to be given three weeks apart.
Bradeen shares her own excitement for this new wave of vaccination and is ready to get shots in arms. “Our children want to be able to return to normal activities just as we do.”
See below for more information on kids' vaccines: