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Health department prepares to administer COVID vaccines to young children, worries about availability

Health officer Dr. Jeremy Adler gives update on the status of COVID-19 (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

The Tippecanoe County Health Department announced that it expects to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to young children starting this week.

The announcement was made Wednesday during a meeting of the Tippecanoe County Board of Health.

The Centers for Disease Control released guidance on Tuesday recommending all children ages 5-11 get a low dose Pfizer COVID vaccine. Final approval from the Indiana Department of Health is expected sometime Wednesday.

Tippecanoe County Health Administrator Khala Hochstedler said the department only has about 300 doses of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine with most appointment slots already filled.

“I’m going to try and order more today, so it’ll arrive by early next week,” she said. “So we’ll take a limited amount of walk-ins unless I secure for-sure more doses coming next Monday.”

The pediatric doses of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine have a different vial and smaller dose compared with the regular Pfizer vaccine and Hochstedler said it’s not yet clear how quickly the department will be able to get more doses for young children.

“If you’re a pediatric (patient) please be patient with us. We only take limited walk-ins just due to supply right now,” she said.

Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler said the county-wide vaccination rate is currently 55%. He said it’s not clear what impact vaccinating the 5-11 age group will have on those numbers.

“I think there is going to be a lot of interest,” he said. “But how much of an impact it will have on the overall vaccination rate for our community remains to be seen. We hope that it has a significant impact.”

During the meeting, board members raised concerns that vaccine hesitancy had begun to creep into annual flu shots in addition to the COVID vaccine.

Adler said the department doesn’t yet have data on the phenomena, but it is a concern.

“One thing that we’re concerned about is that the vaccine hesitancy that we’ve seen with the COVID vaccines is - is that going to spill over into other vaccines? We certainly hope not,” he said. “That would be really detrimental to public health and the health of our entire nation if that was to happen.”

Appointments for a vaccine can be scheduled at ourshot.in.gov. The department’s vaccination clinic has been moved to 1950 S. 18th St. in Lafayette, across from Jefferson High School.