US opens COVID vaccine to little kids; shots begin this week

This May 2022 photo provided by Pfizer shows production of the Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 in Puurs, Belgium. U.S. health advisers on Saturday, June 18, recommended COVID-19 vaccines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers — the last group without the shots.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The newest COVID-19 vaccines approved for children younger than 5 years old are arriving in the area this week at a few locations, with other providers still waiting for news on their shipments.

An employee at Pediatric Care Associates on Eisenhower Boulevard said the practice had received vaccines on Tuesday and would begin appointments Wednesday.

None of the other local providers contacted had received the vaccine and had no estimate when the medicine might arrive.

UPMC spokeswoman Sarah Deist said UPMC Somerset and UPMC Altoona will work together to schedule vaccine clinic at network physician practices and community health centers when supplies become available. Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber’s marketing director, Natalie Bombatch, said the hospital will not receive any of the little kids’ vaccine because the hospital only vaccinates those 12 and older.

Moxham Rite Aid, 407 Central Ave., will be the chain’s only Johnstown location scheduling appointments for young children.

U.S. officials expect most shots to take place at pediatricians’ offices, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told the Associated Press. Many parents may be more comfortable getting the vaccine for their children at their regular doctors.

He predicted the pace of vaccination will be far slower than it was for older populations. 

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.

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