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LI dad 'really happy' to get his kids vaccinated against COVID-19

The CDC late Tuesday approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine

The CDC late Tuesday approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Parents of young children across Long Island headed to get their children vaccinated on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday / Reece T. Williams; Howard Schnapp

Just hours after the CDC approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, doctors on Long Island were injecting shots into young arms on Wednesday as parents rushed to get their kids inoculated.

Robert Fisher, an attorney from Great Neck, pulled his two kids out of school and headed straight for their pediatrician’s office in Levittown when he heard the shots were approved and available.

"I’m really happy that we were able to do it, and we’re finally, hopefully, taking that last step toward normalcy as a family where we are all protected from the virus," Fisher said.

He had no worries about getting his kids — Etta, 8, and Arnold, 6 — inoculated

"We had no doubts about it. We know that the vaccine is really safe," he said. "It’s safe in children, and the virus is dangerous. And it’s sort of not a question in our minds that it’s the right thing to do."

The children’s pediatrician, Dr. Adina Geller of Allied Physicians Group, said she was "thrilled to be able to vaccinate this cohort."

"We’ve been waiting for a long time and I am grateful that the day has come and I look forward to hopefully a safer winter and holiday season with these kids now that they’ll be protected," Geller said.

Shots into arms Wednesday

She started administering the first shots about 12:15 p.m. after receiving 300 doses from the state on Monday. She had been waiting anxiously for approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

U.S. health officials on Tuesday night gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opens a major expansion of the nation’s vaccination campaign.

The Food and Drug Administration already had authorized the shots for children ages 5 to 11 — doses just a third of the amount given to teens and adults. But the CDC formally recommends who should receive FDA-cleared vaccines.

The announcement by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky came hours after an advisory panel unanimously decided Tuesday afternoon that Pfizer’s shots should be opened to the 28 million youngsters in that age group.

The decision marks the first opportunity for Americans under 12 to get any COVID-19 vaccine.

Suffolk County has 152,574 children ages 5-13, while Nassau County has 146,850, according to 2019 population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Vaxmobile at Long Beach

Around lunchtime on Wednesday, Marisa Torreblanca was at a Vaxmobile in Long Beach ready to get two of her children inoculated.

"I couldn’t wait. I wanted to be the first in line," said Torreblanca, a social outreach worker for Roman Catholic parishes on Long Beach. "I’m just overwhelmed and so grateful that it’s so easy to get here in New York. I just think it’s going to open up a lot of freedom for them."

Her children Wade, 9, and Kellan, 7, were getting their shots at the Vaxmobile run by Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital. She has to wait for her third child, Ainsley, 2, until federal authorities approve the vaccine for the youngest children.

Torreblanca said her children’s pediatrician recommended they get the shots.

"I trust my pediatrician. My pediatrician highly recommends it, thinks it’s the best move, that it keeps children safe, and it’s kind of a no-brainer," she said.

In Levittown, Geller said her practice had a waiting list of parents who wanted their children vaccinated as soon as possible, and started contacting them Tuesday night after the CDC approval.

"We’re grateful that we were able to hit the ground running today," Geller said. "The state did a great job of getting us the vaccine doses quickly. As soon as the approval was issued last night, we were ready to go."

Fisher said his kids were "fine" with getting the shots.

"They were also excited to do it," he said. "They’ve been waiting for this. They want to be protected and feel like they can go about their day to day life without having to worry."

NYC shots start Thursday

Some parents on Long Island said they were frustrated because they were unable to get appointments for their children immediately. Geller said she and other doctors would run a vaccination clinic on Nov. 13 when they hoped to inoculate 1,000 children.

CVS announced that 1,700 of its pharmacies nationwide, including 126 in New York, are now accepting appointments for the shots for that age group, with shots being administered starting Sunday.

Meanwhile, city-run sites will offer the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 starting Thursday, while each of New York City’s public schools serving that age group will have the shots beginning Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

"Easy, convenient, free, as always," de Blasio said of the shots at his daily news briefing. Parents must give consent for the shots at schools, where the inoculations will end Nov. 15, he added.

City-run vaccination sites will offer the shots for that age group starting Thursday, de Blasio said.

"City-run sites will be ready, up and running, ready to go, assuming we get that final approval today" from the federal government as expected, the mayor said.

Appointments aren’t necessary at city-run sites, although they are recommended.

"We’ll honor walk-ins, but because walk-ins can be an unpredictable volume, without appointments, people might get stuck waiting, and having a small child with you while you’re waiting is not a fun thing, so better to go with an appointment, but we will not turn people away," said Dr. Mitch Katz, head of the city’s public hospital system.

On Long Island, COVID-19 indicators continued to show the persistence of the virus.

The seven-day average for positivity in testing for the virus Tuesday was 2.16% on Long Island. The number of new daily cases was 222 in Nassau and 231 in Suffolk. New York City had 802 new cases.

Statewide, 37 people died on Tuesday of causes linked to the virus, including two in Nassau and three in Suffolk.

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