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Ohio health leaders prepare for vaccine rollout for ages 5 to 11

The Ohio Department of Health is working with doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and schools across the state in preparation of the rollout of a COVID vaccine for kids.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In anticipation of the Pfizer vaccine rollout for children ages 5-11 in a matter of weeks, the White House released detailed plans Wednesday.

According to that plan, about 15 million doses will be shipped to providers across the United States in the first week after approval.

We are also learning what those plans look like on the local level.

Columbus Public Health on Tuesday made its first order to the state for 600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for ages five to 11. That's according to health commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts.

"We will be providing those vaccines at our vaccine clinics that we are currently operating, trying to make it as accessible to our families and our community members as possible,” said Dr. Roberts.

Part of making the vaccine accessible for as many people as possible will be offering it outside business hours.

When Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for this younger age group, parents can take advantage of evening and weekend clinics through Columbus Public Health and Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"We've ordered 3,000 doses which is the maximum that the Ohio Department of Health would allow us to order at this time,” said Michael Storey, medication use strategist at Nationwide Children's Hospital. “We expect that that will last us about a week or two."

Storey added that the timing could come about two weeks after boosters for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are expected to be authorized. He said this could mean pharmacies could be working on a rollout of both around the same time.

"We're looking at trying to provide boosters to as many of our staff and as many others who come from the community as possible in the next two weeks in order to be able to be done with that prior to what we anticipate will be the availability of the 5-11 vaccine," he said.

The Ohio Department of Health is working with doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and schools across the state in preparation of the rollout of a COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

The vaccine dose will be different than it is for adults... and the needles are smaller.

"We always say kids are not little adults and we mean that,” said Dr. Sarah Bode, the medical director of Nationwide Children's Hospital's Care Connection School-Based Health and Mobile Clinics. “Medications react differently than they do in adults and it's very important that this was studied separately.”

Dr. Bode said they are talking now with all school districts in Franklin County.

"To determine where is their need, what makes the most sense for them and where would those locations be,” she explained.

At this point, Dr. Roberts says Columbus Public Health has not made any plans to offer the vaccine to the five to 11-year-olds in school buildings during school hours. That’s because she said some parents may feel concerned about not being present for the vaccination.

Health leaders expect the authorization to happen by the first week of November.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the state's Vax-2-School program awarding a total of $2 million in scholarships for those who are vaccinated will also expand to include the younger age group.

So far there have been more than 80,000 entries.

A deadline to enter and drawing dates have not been announced.

COVID-19 in Ohio: Recent Coverage