Arlington’s public-health director is asking the community not to put the cart before the horse when it comes to the rollout of COVID vaccines for those ages 5 to 11.
Pfizer expects to have its vaccination approved for use in the 5-to-11 cohort by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shortly, but that is likely the start of a somewhat complicated logistical effort to get the vaccine into the arms of that age group.
About 16,000 Arlington youth are in the targeted age cohort.
Dr. Reuben Varghese, who heads public-health efforts in Arlington, said there will need to be federal and state approval of vaccines for use in that age group, followed by planning to efficiently implement the effort.
“We haven’t worked through any of those details,” he told County Board members on Oct. 19. “I wish I could be more specific [but] it would be irresponsible. We have to build it as we’re flying it.”
“It will take a little longer than people wanted,” Varghese cautioned. “There’s only going to be so much [vaccine] coming to each state, and then it gets divided.”
Varghese expects the rollout of vaccination for the younger age group will run similar to the process when vaccines for adults were approved at the end of 2020.
“We are planning for vaccination clinics, which will be by appointment,” he said.
Vaccination sites likely will be the same as those used by the county government for other age groups, with weekends set aside for the new group. Mass vaccinations in school settings are “not as readily an option at this time,” Varghese said.
Those whose memories stretch back to the start of the year will recall that the state government’s initial rollout of adult vaccinations was, to be charitable, rocky. Eventually, however, enough supply came through to provide plentiful options to those who chose to be vaccinated.
Health officials say vaccination options for those under age 5 are unlikely to be available until sometime in 2022.