Shifts in Vaccination Focus: International and Children

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June 4, 2021

By Stephanie Schorow for the Global Mass Vaccination Site Collaborative

Even as mass vaccination sites are winding down, members of the Global Mass Vaccination Site Collaborative see new challenges looming. One is how to engage colleagues globally who are considering mass vaccination sites as part of their vaccination strategy, and another is the issue of vaccinations for children under 12 years old.

“We know that the risk of infection for this age group is low, but we are still not sure about long-term immunity and whether children can be vectors for COVID-19 infection,” noted Eric Goralnick, MD, MS, Associate Faculty, Ariadne Labs and Principal Investigator of the collaborative, during the June 4 meeting.

Jonathan Ballard, MD, MPH, MPhil, FACPM, of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, shared his concerns about the ability and willingness of private providers nationally to offer vaccinations in their practices given the constraints with storage and handling, documentation, and multi-dose vials. He expressed uncertainty about whether pharmacies will administer vaccines to children as young as two years of age when vaccines are traditionally administered in pediatric offices for this population. His main worry is if there will be enough vaccine providers for younger children, and there may be a need to restart publicly administered vaccinations again in the fall such as children-friendly vaccine sites.

Other discussion points centered on possibly using schools as vaccination sites, the difficulty of getting consent forms filled out — either online or on paper — and what may happen with booster shots.

Amy Young, MD, of the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin commented that there have been some post-vaccine positive cases, mostly with the Alpha variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom. The consensus of the group was that much is yet to be learned about variants. “That’s the big, black box,” Dr. Goralnick said.

Also discussed was vaccination efforts in India and Brazil and how to incorporate vaccination into primary health care.

Key Takeaways

  • Be cautious about shutting down mass vaccination sites if there is a chance they will need to be re-opened in the fall. Considering building plans on how to quickly and efficiently re-open sites if needed.
  • International efforts should consider how to relieve fatigued and stressed health-care workers as well as getting shots in arms.
  • Consent forms for getting children vaccinated will be a challenge. Plan ahead as much as possible.

The Global Mass Vaccination Site Collaborative was launched as a way for stakeholders directing vaccination campaigns around the world to come together and learn from each other’s efforts. This blog series was created to record and share the learning and insights gained from this collaboration. Read blogs from our previous meetings here.