School facilities could serve as COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites for kids this summer

TEXAS CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- Local health departments anticipate teenagers could be approved to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in a matter of weeks and are making plans to distribute doses this summer.

There was a push Friday to vaccinate children 12 years old and up with Pfizer seeking FDA approval. Health experts believe it could come in a matter of weeks.

SEE RELATED: Vaccine trial for children under 12 years old available in Houston

"I work in the medical field," said James Boriboun, a parent. "I've seen the vaccine work more than not work at all. There is a chance it doesn't work, but I'm willing to take that risk than not at all."

Other parents also seem to agree.

"It's something I think everyone should think about," said Kevin Davis.

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Galveston County said it's preparing for the next age group by working alongside the school districts. A meeting will be held to discuss preparations next week. The county said it wants to utilize empty facilities to administer doses this summer.

"The nice thing about having it done in collaboration with the schools is it's movable and can be done in their communities," said Philip Keiser, a Galveston County Local Health Authority.

Keiser said Friday's Pfizer news could mean approval in as short as two weeks for kids 12 and older. Trials are currently underway for other kids, and Keiser believes approval for young children won't take much longer.

"I think it's realistic to expect we'll be doing almost all school-aged children prior to school starting in August," Keiser said.

Dr. Peter Hotez, with Baylor College of Medicine, agrees. He said there's pressure to vaccinate kids by fall.

Health experts, however, said pressure doesn't necessarily mean shortcuts. They assured that the FDA will be reviewing data before giving approval.

"We have not seen any major side effects at all," Keiser said. "People are concerned about the long-term side effects, but I can tell you from everything we know about this there's very little chance of this having any long-term on your kids."

By mid-summer, it's possible most kids will be vaccinated. This is a timeline some parents said they hope to see so their kids can return to school this fall.

"My kids just went back to school," Davis said. "It's kind of been rough, but we're all sticking together."

SEE RELATED: Look up how you can get COVID-19 vaccinations in Houston and across Texas

While Galveston County wants to utilize schools, that may not be the case in Houston and Harris County. The city plans to vaccinate kids at mass sites, pharmacies and other organizations. The county said it's working on a kids plan, which doesn't include schools yet.

SEE RELATED: Children now playing 'huge role' in spread of COVID-19 variant, expert says

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