Vaccine for kids: Questions answered by NYC health commissioner

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — Starting Thursday, some of the youngest New Yorkers are eligible to get the COVID vaccine.

The CDC cleared the way on Wednesday for children between the ages of 5 and 11 to receive a kids-sized dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi spoke with the PIX11 Morning News to answer some of the biggest questions parents might have about getting their kids a vaccine shot.

Difference in dose sizes

Chokshi said the vaccines given to kids will be the same Pfizer vaccine that’s been available for adults, but a dose that’s about 1/3 the size. This dosage has shown to be safe and effective for young children.

How many kids vaccine doses does NYC have ready?

“We’ve been planning and preparing for this for weeks,” Chokshi said, adding that the city has about 230,000 doses being shipped to city vaccination sites, pharmacies, pediatricians and more.

Chokshi said this number will increase over time, so there is no expected shortage.

What if there’s a huge demand for kids vaccines?

The health commissioner said appointments are already available in NYC to get children 5 and above vaccinated.

“We do expect these first days to be particularly busy, so try to make an appointment at one of the sites where you can,” Chokshi said. “Remember, that availability will expand in the coming days,” he added.

You can head to nyc.gov/vaccinefinder or call 1-877-VAX-4NYC to make an appointment.

Any instances where parents are advised to NOT get kids vaccinated?

“The short answer is ‘no’,” Chokshi said. “Virtually all children are eligible for vaccination, as long as they’re 5 and up.”

Chokshi said the real reasons someone might not be able to get vaccinated are “exceedingly rare,” such as a severe allergy to a specific component in the vaccine.

“People who have underlying health conditions, including autoimmune conditions or allergies, are often the ones who can benefit the most from vaccination,” Chokshi assured.

Will vaccines for kid be available at New York City schools?

Chokshi confirmed that yes, the Pfizer kid doses will start being available at city schools starting next week, or the week of Nov. 8.

With kids and adults now able to get vaccinated, can families gather for the holidays?

“Well, it certainly makes it safer,” the health commissioner said. “We want to make sure that people get fully vaccinated, get their second dose and a couple weeks beyond that,” he said.

For those particularly vulnerable, it’s important they get their booster dose.

“But, with all of that done, yes, vaccination is going to make this holiday season much different than last year’s holiday season, and it will be safer to gather,” Chokshi assured.

Will kids still have to wear masks in school even if they’re vaccinated?

Yes, students of all ages will be required to continue wearing masks in New York City schools, regardless of vaccination status, according to Chokshi.

Is it safe for kids to get the flu shot and COVID vaccine at the same time?

“Yes, and I encourage it,” the health commissioner said.

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