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9NEWS hosts town hall on COVID vaccines for children

State health leaders answered questions during the town hall Wednesday on 9NEWS and online.

DENVER — With Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine now becoming available to children ages 5 to 11, 9NEWS hosted a town hall Wednesday with three Colorado health leaders: 

  • Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) 
  • Dr. Edwin Asturias, pediatric infectious disease expert and chair of Community Pediatrics for Children's Hospital Colorado 
  • Dr. Brandi Freeman, Child Health Clinic pediatrician at Children's Hospital Colorado

Here are their answers to our viewers' questions:

Is the state confident they will have enough supply of the vaccine for all of the appointments that have been made?

Colorado will be receiving child doses every day from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- 171,000 of them in the first wave alone, according to Dr. France. There will be 480 different vaccination sites available to children at pharmacies, doctor's offices, public health agencies and schools, as well as events at places that attract families such as museums and the Denver Zoo. Parents should also contact their primary care providers to see if they will be offering the vaccine to children.

Is Colorado considering holding any drive-through vaccination clinics for kids?

No, the state is not planning to hold any mass vaccination sites like the ones at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

What reactions do you anticipate with kids, and what can parents do to prepare?

Kids' reactions to the vaccine will be similar to the ones adults have experienced: fever, body aches and pain and soreness at the injection site, said Dr. Freeman. Parents should talk with their child's pediatrician for advice on managing symptoms with Tylenol, and do what they can to decrease their child's anxiety about the injection itself.  

How will state health leaders work to close the vaccination gap among minorities?

The state needs to work with community and religious leaders to bring the message to communities in their language, said Dr. Asturias. We will also be improving access by using the mobile vaccination clinics that have been very effective for adults.

What if my child recently had COVID-19?

Even children who have recently recovered from COVID-19 should be vaccinated, as that natural immunity will wane over time, said Dr. Freeman. The vaccine will give your child the boost they need so they have the antibodies their body will need to fight the virus. 

What about children who are about to turn 12? Should a parent wait until their child is 12 so they can get both full doses?

It's best not to wait to get your child vaccinated, said Dr. France. Go ahead and get your child vaccinated as soon as possible because the sooner they're vaccinated, the sooner they're protected. If your child turns 12 between doses, it's fine to get the child-size dose first and the adult dose second.

Does the vaccine cause any risk to a child's fertility?

There is no indication of this being an issue, according to Dr. Freeman. We can feel confident that there aren't going to be any long-term effects on fertility for children who are vaccinated.

What about pregnant women? Why is it important for them to be vaccinated?

Mothers can pass antibodies on to their newborns, Dr. Freeman said, so they should be vaccinated to protect themselves and their babies.

Viewers can watch the town hall in its entirety on 9NEWS streaming devices including Roku and Amazon Fire TV, on the 9NEWS YouTube channel and on the video player above.

The town hall will re-air on TV at  9:30 p.m. on Sunday on KTVD (Channel 20).

>> For more information about vaccines for kids, click here

RELATED: Kids ages 5-11 are already starting to get their first COVID-19 shots

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