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IU Health prepares to receive vaccine doses for kids ages 5 to 11

An approved coronavirus vaccine for young children could be just weeks away.

INDIANAPOLIS — A COVID-19 vaccine for kids between the ages of 5 and 11 could be just weeks away, as parents and doctor's offices prepare.

Pfizer could get emergency approval as early as the first week of November.

“For vaccine programs to work and work effectively, you definitely have to get it to all the primary care physicians, because they’re the ones that are seeing the children,” said Dr. John Christenson, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Riley Hospital for Children. 

It’s not a question of if, but when and how much, said Christenson, referring to the number of doses IU Health will receive to give to children. 

And even though the vaccine hasn’t arrived yet, parents are already asking about it, Christenson told 13News.  

“One of the top, number one concerns that all parents have with children, 'Is the vaccine going to cause any harm?'” Christenson said, adding that he assures parents it will not. 

“Nobody wants to see their child get an injection that may be painful, but the reality that people need to realize is that these vaccines are effective and that they are safe,” he said. “There’s a lot of misinformation about some of the side effects that may come from the vaccine, like infertility, and there’s no evidence of that."

Christenson said the other question he gets is whether children really need the vaccine. 

“It’s not an infection to be cavalier and relaxed about. It can be very serious, especially if you have some underlying conditions,” Christenson said.

RELATED: Reports: COVID vaccine boosters for 40 and older under strong consideration

Christenson said he has seen children of all ages hospitalized for COVID, some in Riley’s intensive care unit. 

According to the Regenstrief Institute, which is working with the state to track COVID hospitalization data, 1,766 kids from newborns through the age of 19 have been hospitalized for COVID between March 1, 2020 to Oct. 18 of this year. 

The number of deaths for that same age range from April 27, 2020 to Oct. 13 of this year is 19. 

Despite the number of cases decreasing, Christenson said now is not the time to let down your guard. 

“This is the time to rev up vaccinations. This is the time to protect yourself, because it will keep people from dying and getting hospitalized,” he said.

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