DHEC provides update on vaccines for children, booster shots

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says COVID-19 vaccines for children aged five to 11 could be coming within the next few weeks.

A Wednesday afternoon briefing hosted by DHEC’s Dr. Jane Kelly provided an update on upcoming meetings that could determine the availability.

An advisory committee with the Food and Drug Administration is set to meet on October 26th to further discuss Pfizer’s request for emergency use authorization (EUA) for its vaccine to be used to protect children from COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is scheduled to meet on November 2nd and 3rd to discuss guidance for pediatric vaccines.

Dr. Jane Kelly says guidance from the CDC has to come out before vaccines can be administered to children.

“So the earliest anyone in the state could start vaccinating kids age 5 through 11 would be November 4th,” said Dr. Kelly.

Again, this timeline is not set in stone until the FDA grants EUA.

In the meantime, the CDC has provided planning numbers so states can begin ordering doses. South Carolina is expecting shipments in the first week of November.

“We anticipate receiving up to 152,100 doses in that first week,” said Dr. Kelly.

While the U.S waits for children to become eligible for their first doses, other Americans are on round three. Some receive a third dose, others a booster shot. There is a difference between the two.

A third shot is for people who are immunocompromised. For example, patients with cancer.

“For those individuals, their original two-dose series of Pfizer or Moderna probably did not give them as strong an immune response as it would in someone who’s not immunocompromised,” explained Dr. Kelly.

The third dose increases that level of protection.

Booster shots slightly bump up immunity as vaccine efficacy decreases over time. There are a few different groups eligible for the booster shot. It’s important to note that only Pfizer has been authorized to distribute booster shots at this time.

“For the Pfizer booster, people aged 65 and older, people in long term care facilities, people age 50 to 64 with chronic medical conditions.”

Also eligible, people 18 and older with chronic medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease as well as healthy individuals who are often exposed to the virus, like healthcare workers or teachers.

We just learned U.S. regulators say mixing and matching COVID-19 booster shots is safe and effective.

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