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Oregon to receive 180,000 initial doses of pediatric vaccine

Audrey Onaissi receives an injection of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, as her sister Ava Onaissi, 8, waits her turn. The U.S. entered a new phase Wednesday in its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, with shots now available to millions of elementary-age children. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Health officials in Oregon say they are expecting 180,000 initial doses of the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine, which is enough to cover nearly 53% of the state’s roughly 342,000 children ages 5 to 11.

Following the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot on Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated against the deadly virus.

“This is great news for Oregon children, parents, and families," Brown, a Democrat, said. “Vaccination is the best tool we have to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

On Wednesday some pharmacies and health care provider's began releasing appointment times at select locations. But many of the slots were quickly scooped up.

Officials at the health authority cautioned parents they might have to wait a few days before the vaccine is widely available in Oregon.

About two-thirds of the pediatric doses coming to Oregon are being shipped directly to health care settings like pediatrician’s offices. The other third is going to pharmacies around the state.

Officials at Portland Public Schools, the state's largest school district, announced that they will hold pediatric vaccine clinics at eight district schools in the coming weeks.

“We are excited to be able to start immunizing school-age children against COVID-19, which should bring relief to many parents and guardians, and those who work in education and child care,” said Patrick Allen, the Oregon Health Authority director. “We hope vaccinating kids will help our communities continue to build population immunity that will protect our children, help keep them in school and ultimately bring this pandemic to an end.

Currently, Oregonians who are 18 and younger account for nearly 15% of the state's COVID-19 cases.

Kid-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine cleared two final hurdles Tuesday — a recommendation from CDC advisers, followed by a green light from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The decision marks the first opportunity for Americans under 12 to get the powerful protection of any COVID-19 vaccine.

"It is completely normal for parents and kids to have questions about vaccines––I urge you to reach out to your family doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist and get your questions answered today,” Brown said.

More information about the vaccine and where to get it can be found here: https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19