Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Austin Public Health rolls out COVID-19 vaccinations for children 5-11 years old



Local Health officials say it's just in time before holiday gatherings and school breaks.

Austin Public Health (APH) and its vaccine partners will be offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children 5-11 years of age following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).  

This week, vaccines will be available at Austin Public Health's two Shots for Tots clinics. Appointments are required for these clinics and can be made by calling (512) 972-5520. Austin Public Health  Shots for Tots and Big Shots  clinics provide immunizations and flu shots for children who are uninsured or are Medicaid recipients. COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone regardless of insurance status. Services are also available to uninsured adults, and no one is refused services if they are unable to pay. 

Beginning the week of Nov. 8, APH will offer the vaccinations at two of its walk-in clinics, Delco Activity Center and Old Sims Elementary. No appointment is required for the APH walk-up sites. 

The following week of Nov. 15, APH is working to expand to include clinics at schools with a focus on areas where access to vaccination is limited. 

"Vaccinations are the key to returning children to normalcy. This is also very important for families in multi-generational households. We hope that families make the decision to vaccinate as many of their loved ones as possible to protect their home and community," said Dr. Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority.  

APH incorporated parent feedback into the pediatric vaccine distribution strategy after surveying 10,000 parents, representing seven independent school districts, and approximately 24 charter and private schools in Travis County to identify their provider and location preferences and any hesitancies they might have about vaccinating their children.  

"Based on feedback from our communities, we have put in place the right staff, the right environment, the right process, and even the right prizes to give help our children have a good vaccine experience," said Austin Public Health Interim Director Adrienne Sturrup, "We know the pandemic has hit our Black and Hispanic communities the hardest. Community Health Workers are providing additional vaccine outreach and education for families in these school communities."     

Austin Public Health joins pediatric and family physician leaders across Travis County to support CDC's guidance noting that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and should be given to all who are eligible.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics  recommends  all children over the age of 2 wear masks at school this year, regardless of vaccination status. APH strongly recommends masking for all school staff and students over age 2 except for those with a medical condition that would prevent them from wearing a mask. 

To locate providers in your area with a supply of COVID-19 vaccines, go to Vaccines.gov, or text your zip code to 438829 (822862 for Spanish). 

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