NJDOH Commissioner Persichilli Says Child Vaccination Helps Protect Everyone

By: Follow South Jersey Staff

SOUTH JERSEY — Children in New Jersey ages 5 through 11, approximately 760,000 children, are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, according to the NJ Department of Health.

NJDOH Commissioner Judith Persichilli is urging everyone ages 5 and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

“[The] recommendation by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enable the administration of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years is an important step forward in ensuring that as many people as possible get vaccinated against COVID-19,” Persichilli said in a prepared statement.

The recommendation follows review by CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panels, as well as the FDA, the NJDOH stated. 

According to the CDC, COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, MIS-C (inflammatory syndromes) and long-term complications, such as “long COVID,” in which symptoms can linger for months. Further, the CDC states that during a 6-week period in late June to mid-August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased fivefold.

The pediatric Pfizer vaccine is administered as a two-dose primary series, three weeks apart, and is a lower dose than the dosage for those ages 12 and older. Clinical data examined by the FDA has shown that the vaccine is safe and 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5 through 11, according to Persichilli’s statement.

“As the CDC noted in its statement, COVID-19 vaccines have undergone – and will continue to undergo – the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history,” Persichilli stated. 

“Thousands of New Jersey’s children can now benefit from the same protection that older children and adults have benefited from,” said Jeanne Craft, MD, FAAP, president of the New Jersey chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and long-term complications, according to the CDC,” Persichilli said. “Vaccinating children helps them remain in the classroom and return more safely to sports, clubs, and social activities that are essential to healthy childhood development. Vaccination of children also helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Protecting them through vaccination helps further protect everyone.”

Approximately 203,800 doses of pediatric vaccine have started to arrive in the state. The doses are in the process of being distributed to more than 230 sites including primary care practices, independent and chain pharmacies, county and local sites, federally qualified health centers, acute care hospitals, urgent care and university sites, and the Gloucester County megasite. The state expects ongoing weekly shipments from the federal government.

Department of Health officials spoke with vaccine providers and authorized them to begin the pediatric vaccine immediately.

A fact sheet for recipients and caregivers is available here: https://www.fda.gov/media/153717/download. To see the CDC statement authorizing pediatric vaccine please visit:  https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1102-PediatricCOVID-19Vaccine.html.

To find a vaccination site, visit www.covid19.nj.gov/finder. The list for pediatric doses will get updated as additional sites are added.

For more information, visit the NJDOH website at nj.gov/health.

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