KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Experts are asking parents to have patience when it comes to getting their kids ages five to 11 vaccinated at their local pediatrician's office.
“We have a lot of demand, and the supplies are rolling out. Also, I would say give it a week or two or give it a few days for your physician’s office to figure out the logistics of it,” said Dr. Kevin Ault, OB-GYN at The University of Kansas Health System.
The logistics include how pediatricians are going to properly store the vaccine.
"The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has been working on new guidelines for storage based on a new type of packaging the vaccines are in, and the new guidelines will allow the vaccines to be stored at higher temperatures,” said Dr. Kristin Sohl, American Academy of Pediatrics, Missouri Chapter, president.
Ault, a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee for immunization practices, says previous vaccine handling characteristics made it difficult for some doctor's offices to store them.
“Turning the clock back to December, the handling characteristics were not well known," Ault said. "RNA breaks down very quickly, and so you have this minus eight degrees Celsius, and very few doctor's offices really have that capacity. But now we know that the vaccine will keep in a refrigerator for several weeks, so if I remember correctly from what was said yesterday, it was 10 weeks because of ongoing research that the companies and the FDA are doing. That's a tremendous change and it makes it much easier."
This ongoing research is helping pediatricians like Sohl to administer the vaccine to kids.
“If your doctor already gives vaccines, when these vaccines are able to be stored at those regular temperatures, then as long as you are signed up to give a vaccine as a professional, then you can do it,” Sohl said.
However, before parents vaccinate their children, Ault advises them to ask their child’s pediatricians a few questions.
“When are you going to be getting your shipment? Are you gong to be getting vaccines? After that, when can I make an appointment? Can I make an after-hours appointment? Would you recommend an alternate site like a local pharmacy?” Ault said.
Additionally, Sohl says parents should prepare their kids to get the vaccine.
“Often times it’s just having a conversation with that child so they know what to expect — typically fear is what is causing us to feel anxious,” Sohl said. “So as adults we can help them by saying, 'You know we are going to get our immunizations to stay healthy but it's going to hurt for a minute, and then it’ll be over.'”