By Donald Gilpin
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday, June 18 recommended COVID-19 vaccines for children from 6 months to 5 years old. As of Tuesday, June 21, New Jersey parents can make vaccination appointments for their young children through covid19.nj.gov, the state’s COVID-19 website.
“This is welcome news for parents concerned with ensuring their children have the strongest protection against COVID-19,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted in a statement issued Saturday. New Jersey has ordered 61,000 doses and is distributing them to medical sites around the state, according to Murphy.
The vaccines use the same technology as vaccines for adults, but they are given at different dose sizes and number of shots. Children under 5 who receive the Pfizer vaccine will be given three doses at one-tenth the strength of adult doses. Children under 6 who receive the Moderna vaccine will receive two doses at one-quarter the strength of an adult dose.
The Pfizer vaccine was previously approved for children ages 5 to 11, but fewer than 30 percent in that age group have received the recommended two shots. In CDC nationwide surveys conducted in May, only about one-third of parents said they would vaccinate their young children. According to the most recent available Princeton Health Department statistics, 88 percent of all local residents age 5 and over are vaccinated, 90 percent of those 18 and over.
In response to a New York Times poll in April, fewer than one-fifth of parents of children under 5 said they were eager to get their children vaccinated right away. Parents gave many different reasons for hesitancy, though most health experts agree on the safety of the vaccine and recommend that all children be vaccinated.
New Jersey COVID-19 case numbers have been declining in recent weeks, as have transmission rates and hospitalizations. The rate of transmission in New Jersey on Tuesday, June 21, was 0.8. Numbers below 1 indicate that the outbreak is declining, with each new case leading to less than one additional new case.
Mercer County is one of 11 counties in the state listed by the CDC as in the “medium” risk category. Seven New Jersey counties have “high” transmission rates and three counties are listed as “low” risk. Masks are recommended indoors in public and on public transportation in high-risk areas.
The Princeton Health Department will be hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics on Thursday, June 23, at the Princeton Farmers Market, Dinky Train Station Parking Lot, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Wednesday, June 29, at the Princeton United Methodist Church, 7 Vandeventer Avenue, 5-7 p.m.; Tuesday, July 19, at Monument Hall, 1 Monument Drive, 2-4 p.m.; and Thursday, July 28, at the Princeton Shopping Center, 301 North Harrison Street, 6-8 p.m.