PHOENIX — On Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control gave its final approval for children, aged 5-11, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Nationwide, 28 million kids are estimated to be eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, according to the CDC. In Arizona, that means 645,000 children are eligible.
Following the CDC's recommendation, Pleasant Pediatrics, a doctor's office with several locations in the Valley, began administering their first vaccines to children. On Thursday, MVP Kids Care Pediatrics will begin providing the vaccine to kids at its offices in Avondale, Laveen, and Phoenix.
In addition to appointments, doctors are now working to assure parents that the kid-friendly version of the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective.
"COVID-19 vaccines have undergone – and will continue to undergo – the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Vaccinating children will help protect them from getting COVID-19 and therefore reducing their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, or developing long-term COVID-19 complications," the CDC said in a Tuesday news release.
"End this, so we can be done with this," said Pediatrician Brent Bjornsen, who works at MVP Kids Care's office in Maryvale.
He said there are a wide range of cultures in his community, which makes it even more important for him to form personal connections with patients and parents about the vaccines and overall healthcare.
"Have a more personal interaction with individuals because that is obviously the best way to build trust with that relationship," he said.
"We really just have to find common ground. And try to figure out where their hesitancy is coming from and what cultural barriers we’re kind of facing," said Alyssa Bernardi, a pediatrician at MVP Kids Care.
This week, many pop-up vaccination sites will open across the state alongside the dozens of pediatrician and healthcare locations.
One of those pop-up locations will be in Tolleson, Arizona at Tolleson Fire Department Station #161.
“I think we need to all get vaccinated so the virus can end and so that there’s no more sickness. That way we are prepared for any other illnesses that could be coming," said Maria Soto, a Tolleson resident who went to the Tolleson Fire Department pop-up vaccination location with her son, Jesus, to receive their COVID-19 Vaccine.
Soto said her family has been hesitant to receive the vaccine due to misinformation on the internet.
"I think it’s because of all the stupid things people read on social media," said Soto. "A lot of people think that it gets you sick or you might turn into is in a zombie...a lot of stupid things.”
Regarding how well the vaccine works and common side effects, the CDC said: "Similar to what was seen in adult vaccine trials, vaccination was nearly 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 among children aged 5-11 years. In clinical trials, vaccine side effects were mild, self-limiting, and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children."
The most common side effect was a sore arm, the CDC said.
The Arizona Department of Health Services has an interactive map on their website that shows where people can get the vaccine, as well as pop-up vaccine clinics and drive-thru events. Many of them take walk-in appointments.