COVID & Kids
Vaccine being distributed to children ages 5-11 by Danville Pediatrics

Published 3:41 pm Friday, November 5, 2021

Since the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 has been released, one local pediatric office has been quite busy distributing it.

Danville Pediatrics physician Dr. Josh Wiglesworth said his office received 600 doses of the vaccine and began distributing it Wednesday morning. He said they saw about 60 to 70 children for vaccinations on Thursday and Friday, and expected to have two to three times that on Saturday.

“At that point, we may get through the initial rush of people who are really anxious to get it, and it could slow down,” he said. “We’ve been assured there’s plenty of vaccine for children, all of the children in the United States to get the vaccine if they want it.”

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Wiglesworth said he is confident the vaccine is safe for children because of the many professional groups that recommend it.

“We definitely feel like it’s a safe vaccine. It’s been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have all recommended the vaccine and believe it’s safe,” he said. “We’re particularly excited about the dosage for children from ages 5-11 because it’s a third of the adult dose. Studies show that this dosage created an antibody response similar to that of higher dosages for adults, but also showed less side effects for this age group due to the fact that it is delivered in a dose a third of what adults get.”

The one question Wiglesworth said he is asked most often is, ‘Would you give the vaccine to your own children?’ His answer is yes, and he added that he has an 11-year-old who has received the vaccine.

“One of my own children is in that same category, and it’s not just my advice, but the advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics and experts across the country, to go ahead and give the vaccine based upon your child’s current age. So if you have an 11-year-old, even if they are about to turn 12, it’s recommended to go ahead and give that 11-year-old dose,” he explained. “I was actually quite pleased that my child was 11 and able to get the pediatric dose because I suspect that my child will probably have less side effects because they’re getting a lower dose, and studies have shown that it produces the same antibody response. I felt like that was a good thing for my 11-year-old. Also, we’re still seeing COVID out there, and as a parent, it’s not something I wanted to wait and give a few more months of exposure. I wanted my child to be able to get the vaccine immediately.”

Wiglesworth said the same side effects are possible for children as for adults who received the vaccination, and the most common include headache, fever, chills, and fatigue. He added that pain and soreness at the injection site are also what is most likely to be experienced. He said any of these side effects can be treated at home with Tylenol if they are experienced.

As for a booster for the vaccination, Wiglesworth said he doesn’t really know, but in his opinion, it is ‘way too soon’ to know if one will be needed.

“Currently boosters are really recommended for people in high risk, and since children are in that lower risk category, that may be something that is not needed down the road,” he said, adding, “Though as we’ve seen, COVID has evolved over the last year and a half, and there may be future evolution that would cause the need for boosters.”

Wiglesworth said his office will provide the vaccine to any child whether they are a patient of his office or not. He said there is no charge for the vaccination, but parents who have insurance should bring a copy of their insurance card to their appointment.

“There’s no cost. It’s free and provided by the government. The process is very quick. They will fill out a consent form and get the vaccine, and there’s a 15-minute waiting period to make sure the patient doesn’t have any type of allergic reaction, and then they go home. We have people who are not our patients doing it and they are in and out in 20 minutes,” he said.

He added that most parents who want their children vaccinated are currently scheduling a vaccine-only appointment, however, patients can be vaccinated while in the office for a regular well-child check-up as part of their routine exam.

About the vaccine
Wiglesworth said the vaccine for children is one-third of the adult dose. Currently, only Pfizer manufactures an approved vaccine for children, but he said it is likely another could be available, and that Moderna could get similar approval after the new year.
He said the children’s vaccine is very similar to the adult dose with some minor changes, including one that makes it easier to store the vaccine. The adult version required what he called ‘ultra-cold levels’ for storage, while the children’s version can be stored in refrigerators, making it easier to distribute.
Wiglesworth said there are 10 doses in a vial, and after the first dose is given, the vial must be used within 12 hours.
“That will not be an issue until we get down to a trickle, where fewer people want it per day, but that will not be an issue for the foreseeable weeks,” he added.

Personal experiences
Theo McDonald
Theo McDonald is a 5-year-old who received the vaccination at Danville Pediatrics Thursday evening. His parents, Brian McDonald and Ann Turcea, said they had no problem making the decision to vaccinate Theo.

“It wasn’t really ever in doubt for us,” Brian said. “The science is really clear that it is effective and the side effects are negligible, so it was an easy decision to make. The doctors recommended it, and we’re doing it.”

When it came to talking to Theo about the vaccination, Brian said that even though he is 5 years old, he understood it was a good thing.

“He’s usually a little hesitant about shots and things like that, but it didn’t take a lot of convincing. He understands that all of the family are vaccinated, and it’s the quickest way to be able to get back to normal and be able to do some things he hasn’t been able to do, or we haven’t allowed him to do because of the virus, like going out to restaurants with his grandparents and things like that,” Brian said. “For kids his age, their working memory is so short that it’s hard for them to remember a time when we weren’t wearing masks. This is his second year of preschool, and throughout both years we’ve been in COVID protocol. Sadly, it’s kind of a way of life. He’s seen all of us be able to get the vaccine, so it wasn’t too difficult for him to understand why we need to do it.”

Theo also understood that the vaccine would help him and his family stay healthy.

“It was the idea that it was going to keep him healthy,” Ann added. “I work in a hospital, and he understands that people have been more sick. We’ve been more worried about getting sick and we’ve been more careful about avoiding things that could get us sick. It’s kind of framing it as ‘this is how you stay healthy,’ and it was easy for him to realize that this will keep me from getting sick.”

Brian said he and Ann were glad to see the vaccine was approved for children ages 5 to 11. Theo just turned 5 in September, and they feared that it would be for children 6 to 11.

“This is so comforting,” Ann said. “It’s exciting to know that we’re on the right track.”

Brian added that getting Theo vaccinated brings great peace of mind for him and Ann.

“We know he is less likely to get (COVID) or get sick with it. He’s in school and our other daughter is in school. We are all in healthcare and education and are exposed to so many people and we knew it would be less likely that he would catch it or spread it,” Brian said. “We’re so excited. We’ve been talking about it for two weeks now. Today’s the day!”

After getting the vaccine, Theo’s family was having friends over to their house for pizza. The friends were Maurice and Amanda Manning and their daughter, Lillian, who is a classmate of Theo’s.

Lillian Manning
Six-year-old Lillian Manning doesn’t like shots. Her mom, Amanda, said her daughter fixates on shots when she knows they are in her future.

“We didn’t do a lot of preparation. She was the one that has asked more questions rather than us trying to explain it to her,” Amanda said.

What they did to help prepare Lillian for her vaccination was schedule her appointment at the same time as that of her friend and classmate, Theo.

“Pairing her with a school friend was a really good idea,” Maurice said. Amanda added that she spoke with Theo’s mom and got an appointment at the same time to have the children in the office together as a form of support for each other.

The Mannings said there was ‘no doubt, no question’ when it came to getting Lillian vaccinated.

“Not one bit,” said Maurice.

Amanda said she had friends ask her if she was worried about the vaccine for kids, and how her daughter might react.

Maurice said they have tried to reinforce to Lillian that he and her mother have had their shots.

“We’re getting ready to have our boosters, so everybody’s doing this. It’s OK,” Maurice said. “I think, too, she understands as best she can that this is an unusual situation. She’s known something’s going on. We’re all going to have to respond to this in some ways.”

Amanda said she and her husband see the vaccine as safe, and it was their choice to make to vaccinate Lillian.

“I think the all-or-nothing concept about vaccines is an individual’s preference,” she said. “I feel like if you feel comfortable going to get a flu vaccine…I haven’t heard of anyone that’s died from receiving the COVID vaccine. And the people who have died that have been vaccinated, usually there’s a lot of comorbidity happening where it complicates things, but it’s certainly not the cause, but a contributing factor to death.”

“As soon as I was able to get the vaccination through my work, I did because I’m a professor at Transylvania, and I can’t be in a safe environment and still do my job, so I wanted to do whatever I could to be able to return to my normal work situation as safe as could be, knowing that it’s not perfect,” Maurice added.

Peter Swanson
Jason and Ellen Swanson’s son Peter is a 7-year-old who received the vaccine at Danville Pediatrics the day after the CDC gave final authorization. He said Peter showed no signs of side effects other than being a little tired the night after being vaccinated.

“We’ve been following the news related to the vaccine approval for kids,” Jason said. “I also heard Dr. Wiglesworth speak at a Cub Scouts meeting about the vaccine and discussions he had with researchers to get answers to his questions. He explained to the kids and parents that he felt confident in the science behind vaccines.”

Jason said he had a 7-year-old nephew who had COVID, and he said he knows several others have died from the virus. Still, he said that didn’t factor into the decision to have Peter vaccinated.

“COVID is an obvious problem, and vaccines are a clear part of the solution,” he said.

Jason said he looks forward to fewer quarantines and a safer environment for children in schools as more students get their vaccinations.

“We also have a 3-year-old who is not eligible for the vaccine yet. Now that Peter is vaccinated, along with all other adults in our close family and friends, our daughter is that much safer,” Jason said.

“I was excited to get vaccinated because it means I won’t have to quarantine as much and I can prevent spreading COVID to others, like my little sister who can’t get vaccinated yet,” Peter said.

Jason added that he feels Danville Pediatrics did a great job planning for the distribution of the vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds.

“From what I saw in the national news, the FDA and CDC gave a clear timeline for approvals and had a plan in place to get the vaccine to doctors quickly,” Jason said. “Danville Pediatrics was ready to go immediately after vaccines were authorized to continue their efforts to help Boyle County children be healthy and safe.”