In some pediatric practices, the shots are already going to the guns. The Children’s Medical Group, a private practice in Atlanta, ordered the doses as soon as it was allowed and received a first shipment on Monday, the June 16 holiday. They started getting vaccinated at lunchtime. “We had a huge demand,” says Jennifer Shu, the study’s pediatrician and editor for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “We have also received calls from patients in other studies whose doctors do not carry any Covid vaccines for this age group.”
As it suggests, and as are the parents Twitter reporting– availability varies. This could be due to those early forecasts of low absorption; practices and hospitals may not want to invest freezer space and staff time if they don’t expect a lot of interest. But it could also be due to a bureaucratic hurdle that has haunted Covid vaccination since its earliest days. Unlike nearly all other vaccines, this one doesn’t come from a commercial distributor; it is dispensed by the federal government and channeled through state health departments. Hence, to receive it, healthcare professionals must complete the CDC documents. This is true even if they already participate in other government programs, including Vaccines for Children (known as VFC), which guarantees shots for families without private health insurance.
“The participation of providers who usually participate in the VFC program has been quite good,” says Marcus Plescia, physician and medical director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers. “Getting him to private practice sites was a slower process. They are not used to being part of government-run vaccination programs. Some of them don’t want to do it because of the paperwork and the hassle. “
The childhood vaccination schedule may also be hampered by another longstanding problem: the size of the vaccine vials. Each contains 10 doses and, once thawed and opened, should be used within 12 hours. “Pediatricians, in particular, don’t like to waste the vaccine. They see it as a valuable commodity, “says Hannan.” Getting them to order enough vials to have the vaccine on hand every day, when they potentially give a person a vaccine and discard nine doses because you don’t have nine other children, that’s a challenge. “.
Another complication is that all Covid protections so far, including vaccination, have been unfairly distributed. Half of those 19 million children under 5 are black children, according to a Kaiser analysis; 41% rely on Medicaid for insurance and 4.5% are uninsured. With public sites, pharmacies and schools unavailable to help younger children, there will be extra pressure on federally and community-level qualified health centers to reach children near them. “We know all over the launch that some of the most disadvantaged groups weren’t vaccinated at the same rates in the beginning,” says Jen Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Foundation. “These are children who are vulnerable for many different reasons, and the last thing anyone wants is for them to suffer disproportionately or have worse access to this surgery.”
At this point, experts are hoping for slow adoption rather than No absorption. Parents whose children have early children’s visits or summer appointments to prepare them for sports, may choose to wait a few months rather than go on a special trip. This has pros and cons: it leaves children vulnerable to Covid for longer, but normalizes the vaccine as just one of the many hits they get in their early years.
For some parents, the problem will not be programming, but trust. They will need additional patience from people within the medical system as they address concerns, perhaps as they addressed them alone last year. “At the next appointment with the pediatrician, they may ask for a conversation, which is different from calling the office” to arrange the shot, says Angela K. Shen, a visiting researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who studies attitudes towards health. vaccination. “More conversations may be needed, with the brother, sister, pharmacist and pediatrician. These people in the middle are the ones that public health messaging strategies will want to pursue, to answer their questions in a non-patronizing way. “