By Lisa Smith, Senior Director of Clinical Strategy and Operations, Walmart U.S.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. This is a positive step forward in our ongoing efforts to serve and protect our communities.
As a parent of two school-aged kids, with a husband who teaches, I understand the daily uncertainty parents around the country have been living with. We’ve dealt with remote learning, hybrid learning, and concerns about classroom safety. Many schools reopened this fall but have dealt with interruptions and closings because of COVID-19 outbreaks, so for many, this authorization brings a big sigh of relief.
Walmart and Sam’s Club will administer the Pfizer vaccine to eligible children ages 5 to 11 in more than 5,100 pharmacies nationwide starting later this week as supply allows. The FDA and CDC have carefully evaluated the safety and effectiveness data, and after a thorough review, based on strict safety and efficacy standards, they determined the vaccine is safe for children aged 5-11, at one-third of the dose used for adolescents and adults.
I know parents have questions, so here are a few things you should know:
- Check availability via online scheduler: Parents and guardians can use Walmart’s digital appointment scheduler to find an available Pfizer vaccine for their kids in their communities. Simply filter by age, and our tool will show locations administering the Pfizer vaccine in your neighborhood. Initially, supply may be limited, so check availability via the scheduler before heading to the pharmacy. You can make an appointment to reserve your child’s spot in advance or simply walk in, based on availability. To find a COVID-19 vaccine near you, visit Walmart.com/covidvaccine or samsclub.com/pharmacy/immunizations.
- The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, administered three weeks apart: As with adults and adolescents who have been immunized with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, children will need to receive two doses, three weeks apart to be fully vaccinated. Your child’s second appointment will be scheduled at the time of the first dose. Our digital appointment scheduler will send a reminder ahead of the appointment to ensure the second dose is administered on time.
- Side effects: According to the FDA and CDC, commonly reported side effects in the clinical trial are similar to what’s been seen in adults and other vaccines recommended for children. That could mean a sore arm at the vaccination site, which was the most commonly reported symptom, tiredness, fever, or headaches. Side effects were generally mild to moderate in severity and occurred within two days after vaccination, and most went away within one to two days. The CDC recommends a dose of non-aspirin pain reliever or a cold compress at the site if kids are bothered by the side effects.
- Consent requirements for minors: Please speak with your pharmacist or visit your state department of health website to learn about immunization consent requirements for minors.
We have an opportunity to support vaccination efforts with our caring pharmacy team, ready to answer any questions you may have. I like knowing I now have an opportunity to protect my children from this virus that has had such a devastating impact on so many families. Yesterday’s authorization is something to celebrate, so let’s take advantage of the gift this expanded eligibility will bring to protect our kids and communities.