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Vaccines for kids 5-11 arrive in Alaska; Anchorage School District proceeds with clinics

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 2:26 PM AKDT|Updated: Nov. 3, 2021 at 8:11 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Armed with 500 doses of child-sized Pfizer vaccines, the Anchorage School District went ahead on Wednesday with the first of several planned vaccine clinics.

The district had announced the clinics earlier this week in anticipation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention giving final authorization to the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11, which happened on Tuesday. Alaska’s immunization program ordered and has received 33,000 doses of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine, according to the state health department.

On Wednesday, the school district posted that it had 500 pediatric vaccine doses available for its first clinic running from 2-8 p.m. at the district headquarters located at 5530 E. Northern Lights Blvd. Parents showed up with their children in tow two hours early to make sure they could get in.

Many in the long line said they had consulted with their pediatrician before deciding the shot was right for their families. That’s something doctors are encouraging, including Dr. Jeanette Legenza of The Children’s Clinic. Legenza said she is getting plenty of questions from parents.

“Number one is safety,” Legenza said. “No parent wants to do anything that might harm their child. So a lot of questions are around that. And as far as the process by which this vaccine was developed and the numbers that were studied, I’m quite comfortable that we have good data, I trust the data it is safe so that is the number one thing I’d like to relay to parents.”

Studies have not found any serious side effects for younger children who are vaccinated. And Dr. Legenza said she is recommending the vaccine for her patients. The Anchorage School District isn’t taking a position on the issue, but instead wants to make the shots easily available for families who have decided to get them.

There are 12 clinics that run through Dec. 1, as well as several drive-through vaccine clinics set up at Service High School, Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School and Chugiak High School.

Children will need two doses of the vaccine spaced three weeks apart, and another two weeks after that to be considered fully vaccinated. Legenza said parents who want their children to be protected for the upcoming holidays should consider getting their first shot now.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.

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