The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced on Wednesday that the state will begin offering COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 5 to 11, following the Centers for Disease Control’s confirmation that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective for the age group.
The CDC unanimously decided to offer the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 5 to 11 on Tuesday.
“Our nation’s leading medical experts have reviewed the available data and confirmed that the Pfizer vaccine is safe for children 5 to 11 years of age,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake in a press release. “We will soon begin vaccinating more of Wisconsin’s children to protect them from the long-term symptoms of COVID-19 and reduce disruptions in and out of the classroom. We are urging parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated as soon as they can to protect them and those around them.”
According to the DHS’s COVID-19 dashboard, children under 18 represent the highest number of new cases compared to other age groups. This number spiked in the week of Sept. 12 with 5,598 new cases — the highest number of new cases for this age group since the beginning of the pandemic.
They also represent the second-highest number of cumulative cases in Wisconsin since April of 2020, with a total of 122,910 cumulative cases. The 25 to 34 age group had a total of 126,686 cumulative cases since April 2020 — the only age group with more cumulative cases than those under 18.
Since April 2020, 599 children ages 9 and under and 1,079 of those aged 10 to 19 have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. 49 people from these age groups have needed intensive care, and four people in the 10-19 age group have died.
Clinics across Wisconsin have already made plans to offer the vaccine to children.
According to NBC 15, both UW Health and SSM Health received shipments of the Pfizer vaccine the same day that the CDC approved its use for children under 18. While some pediatric care facilities have already received doses, the CDC announced that they would begin executing full-scale vaccination efforts the week of Nov. 8.
As of Oct. 28, SSM Health already had plans in place to provide adults with COVID-19 booster shots and children with their initial vaccinations in local school districts in Dane and Sauk counties.
Public Health Madison & Dane County indicated that they were preparing the Alliant Energy Arena to provide vaccinations to children in a tweet.
The Alliant Energy Center, which stopped distributing vaccines in June, reopened on Oct. 12 to provide booster shots to adults, with initial plans stating that about 220 vaccinations could be given per day, with the capacity to provide up to 1,000 if necessary.
PHMDC anticipates beginning its efforts early next week.
According to the CDC, vaccinations were about 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5 to 11. The department stated that side effects were mild, the most common one being a sore arm.