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Health departments ready to vaccinate kids

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman with Fire Chief Trisha Wolford
Joel McCord
Anne Arundel Executive Steuart Pittman and county fire chief Trisha Wolford

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC's director has accepted the recommendations of a science panel that unanimously endorsed Tuesday the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in children aged 5 through 11.

That means inoculations could begin this week and health departments throughout Maryland and the nation are poised to begin getting that vaccine into young arms. But local health officers say they worry there won’t be enough initially.

Anne Arundel County’s health officer, Dr. Nilesh Kalayanaraman, said in a news conference Tuesday there are about 51,000 children eligible for the vaccine in his county. But in a news release Wednesday he said the county has only 4,950 doses to begin with.

“This means that there will be a wait for the first few weeks to get your child vaccinated,” he said. “But rest assured we will vaccinate your children.”

He said more than 10 pediatric practices and 30 pharmacies in the county will get additional vaccine doses and the county will make its doses available through various sites, but only by appointment because of the limited supply.

“We could realistically get every child at least their first dose within the next couple of months as long as we get supply, and that’s really the main limitation.”

Kalayanaraman said the pediatric practices and pharmacies will get their first vaccine doses in the next few days and that the county will list those pharmacies on its web site but leave it to the pediatricians to contact their patients.

Anne Arundel will release the first two batches of appointments on its web siteat 7 p.m. Wednesday and noon Thursday. The first vaccination site will open Friday at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold.

Additional sites at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center in Annapolis, Bay Meadow in Glen Burnie and the Lula Scott Community Center in Shady Side will open the week of Nov. 8.

The county also is partnering with the Anne Arundel Public Schools to make vaccines available at 24 elementary schools and will release those registration links in conjunction with the school system.

Howard County’s health officer, Dr. Maura Rossman, said in a letter to county residents posted on her department’s Facebook page that they would begin administering vaccines Friday as well, but, as in Anne Arundel, only by appointment because of a limited supply.

She said there are about 33,000 children eligible in her county, but she expects to receive only about 9,300 doses initially divided among 15 providers, including the county.

Parents or guardians should check with their children’s health provider to see if they will be providing vaccines, Rossman wrote.

She said the county will operate vaccination clinics from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Howard Community College starting Friday. Information on the online registration process for the clinics will be available on thehealth department’s website after 5 p.m. Thursday.

Rossman wrote that although demand will outstrip supply in the beginning, the vaccine will be more available and easily accessible “once supply patterns are established.”

This post has been updated.

Joel McCord is a trumpet player who learned early in life that that’s no way to make a living.