MedStar Health begins vaccinating kids aged 5-11 for COVID-19
Columbia, Md. – MedStar Health is taking COVID-19 vaccines on the road to make sure the newest group of eligible children who live in underserved communities of Washington, D.C., have easy access to the life-saving shots. Children age 5-11 are now getting their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at pediatric offices across the system, including MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics in Tenleytown and onboard the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile at its regular stops in wards 6 and 7.
“Getting the COVID-19 vaccine to our younger populations is critical to our overall vaccination strategy,” said Christina Hughes, vice president, Healthcare System Preparedness & Chief Preparedness Officer and a leader in the coordination and logistics of vaccine arrival and distribution for MedStar Health. “As we work to address health disparities in our community around COVID-19, the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic helps us improve their access and get the vaccines to groups who have been disproportionately affected by this virus.”
“We are pleased to be able to vaccinate our pediatric patients five days a week at both our Tenleytown office and on the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in wards 6 and 7 in the District,” said Michael Donnelly, MD, chair of Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
Onboard the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, which has served as a medical home to underserved children across the District especially in wards 5,6,7, and 8 for some 30 years, teams are vaccinating this newest group on Tuesdays starting November 16 and circling back to locations to ensure kids get their second dose.
“We’re just very relieved,” said Dwight Miller whose two sons were vaccinated onboard the mobile clinic. “I was stressed about getting calls from school about positive cases at school wondering if my child would be next, so it’s a huge sigh of relief.”
“Getting the vaccine is very easy and only takes five minutes,” said Harriet Huntley whose son also got the COVID-19 shot onboard the medical clinic. “My son wanted to play football and they told him he couldn’t play football until he got the shot.”
“We’re really excited to have this opportunity to provide vaccines for all our patients in the mobile clinic which is the medical home that families in these wards know and trust,” said Janine Rethy, MD, MPH, division chief of Community Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
The Kids Mobile Medical Clinic serves communities that have expressed concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Rethy says their long-standing presence in the community has made a big difference.
“When we started to give vaccines to the older kids over the summer, I thought it was going to be a hard sell for some of our families, but it really wasn’t,” said Dr. Rethy. “It was a matter of them knowing us and trusting us and just having one or two questions answered and then they were good to go.”
“This is a really special opportunity for MedStar Health to take the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine directly to the children and their families in the District’s most vulnerable neighborhoods,” said Senior Director of Community Health for MedStar Health, Diana Quinn. “We know this is the next important step towards getting our families and our communities back to normal.”
“We feel like this vaccine is safe and effective and the risks of taking the vaccine are lower than the risks of getting the disease itself and spreading it to others in the community,” said Dr. Rethy. “For 5-11-year olds, the vaccine decreases the risk of getting the virus by 91 percent which is really excellent. In fact the side effects such as sore arm, fatigue and low-grade fever are even lower than those experienced by the older teens, which is very promising.”
“Think about your loved ones. Think about your community,” said Miller who will be taking his sons to their grandmother’s house for the holidays. “Most importantly think about protecting the health of your family, especially your kids.”
To make an appointment with the mobile clinic call 202-295-0547. To learn more and to find a COVID-19 vaccine in your area, visit vaccines.gov.