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They’re Here! COVID Vaccines for 5-Through-11–Year-Olds

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November 9, 2021

By Barrett Seaman —

Normally, the parking lot behind the medical office building on Ashford Avenue in Dobbs Ferry would be empty on a Sunday. Not last Sunday, Nov. 7, however. Cars moved in and out throughout the day as a team of three doctors shuttled medical service trays on wheels from one vehicle to another, pausing to match names with appointment records and then injecting a child passenger with a first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine dose — one third of what adults and children 12 and older have been getting. In three weeks, the patients are invited back for the second dose.

This is the week the newly authorized Pfizer vaccine rolls out nationwide to children ages 511. Approval for the Moderna and J&J shots is expected soon. Many of the major pharmacies in the area have already stocked up with this child-strength version, and the county’s Department of Health has asked school systems around Westchester to launch a survey to see how many parents would be interested in participating in a school-based vaccination clinic.

Dobbs Ferry Pediatrician Dr. Nitin Gupta wasn’t going to wait for the results. He recruited Dr. Debbie Horn, a house call pediatrician from Scarsdale, and Dr. Holly Gilbert, an infectious disease specialist and internist, also from Scarsdale, to join him. They pre-ordered 300 doses directly from Pfizer and got the word out.

By the end of the day Sunday, says Dr. Gupta, they had administered 240 doses, which they will repeat in three weeks.

The three docs were able to get 300 doses directly from Pfizer. (Barrett Seaman/The Hudson Independent)

While this was a one-off clinic, the doctors plan to vaccinate their young patients by appointment in their offices. “I really hope other pediatricians start vaccinating their children,” says Dr. Gupta. “It’s the best way to defeat the pandemic.”

One of the dads who brought his child to the Dobbs Ferry clinic was Kenny Herzog, executive director of the #VaxUpWestchester campaign,  which has been working to facilitate COVID vaccinations since they first became available last winter. “My advice to parents would be to not wait for schools to host clinics,” says Herzog. “They should avail themselves of the services of pharmacies and supermarkets, which are totally equipped to handle this.”

Already, nearly half of Walgreens stores are offering the Pfizer vaccine for ages 511. CVS will have them available at 1,700 branches nationwide, with 126 in New York. Appointments can be made through their websites or by calling an individual pharmacy.

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