As Vaccines Become Available to Children, Parents Struggle to Get Appointments

Shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 arrived in Oregon on November 1. But due to the widespread demand for the vaccine for children, parents are finding it difficult to get appointments.

Some clinics are booked until November 17th, while other clinics "ask[ed] parents to refrain from scheduling shots until a shipment schedule became clear," according to Willamette Week.

Although the shipments arrived on Monday, it could take two weeks to distribute them, Oregon Health Authority spokesman Rudy Owens told the newspaper.

"The initial supply of pediatric Pfizer vaccine is being delivered to vaccination sites directly from the factory this week and next, with deliveries continuing through November 9," Owens said. "It will take about two weeks for the vaccine to be shipped from the factory to sites across Oregon and then, where necessary, moved to smaller volume sites by health systems and redistribution hubs."

Children Get COVID-19 Vaccine
Parents are having a difficult time scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments for their children. In this photo, National Jewish Health registered nurse Lindsay Waldman (R) administers a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine to Coco Peikin, 6, on November 3, 2021, in Denver, Colorado. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The Sellwood Medical Clinic in Portland is one of the centers affected by the unknown shipping schedule. They announced on their website regarding a clinic opening at the local park that "the Drive-thru 5-11 Covid Vaccine schedule at Oaks Park will open WHEN WE KNOW THE VACCINES ARE GOING TO ARRIVE!" They warned that they would delete any appointments that were made prematurely. Slots were filled by November 2.

The vaccine shortage is becoming a concern for other states as well. In October, clinics in Columbia, Maryland, were running out of adult vaccines and were having to work hard behind the scenes to prepare for the influx of vaccine doses for children, Baltimore's WBAL-TV reported.

"Children aren't little adults," Dr. Kawsar Talaat of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the news station. "We can't give them exactly the same vaccine that we gave to adults and older kids."

Despite some states experiencing difficulties scheduling an appointment, in the long run, there are expected to be more vaccines for children available than there were for adults.

Dr. Kristen Dillon, a senior adviser with the Oregon Health Authority's COVID Response and Recovery Unit, told Willamette Week that "there's significantly more vaccine available for the 5-to-11 [year-old] population than there was for the adult population earlier this year, and we don't expect to experience the same degree of scarcity."

Several clinics, including ones in Oregon and Maryland, are requiring parents who wish to have their children vaccinated to complete a vaccine waiver form for minors.