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Unalaska kids ages 5-11 will soon have access to the Pfizer vaccine

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The Iliuliuk Family and Health Services clinic pre-ordered the vaccine weeks ago in preparation for its approval, and the Pfizer doses are scheduled to arrive Friday.

U.S. health officials have given final approval for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 through 11, but Unalaska children will have to wait for their shots — at least for a few more days.

The Iliuliuk Family and Health Services clinic pre-ordered the vaccine weeks ago in preparation for its approval, and the doses are scheduled to arrive Friday, according to Medical Director Dr. Megan Sarnecki. The Oonalaska Wellness Center received their doses Thursday.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended kids as young as 5 receive the vaccine Tuesday, Sarnecki said the delay in getting doses to Unalaska isn’t unusual. Shipping to the island is more difficult than to many other less remote regions of the state, she said.

“I think the state has overall done a great job at sending us vaccines throughout the pandemic,” said Sarnecki.

Both health care clinics say they’re hoping to start administering the shots next week. The doses for the younger kids are smaller, and so are the needles.

“It's a third of the dose, the Pfizer dose, and it's mixed differently, it comes in a different vial,” Sarnecki said.

Some of the details of the shots are still being worked out. Lori Jackson, medical director and nurse practitioner at the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, which operates the tribal community clinic in Unalaska, said she’s not sure yet whether their allotment will only go to beneficiaries. But, Sarnecki said the two clinics have traded doses of vaccine in the past.

Meanwhile, Unalaska’s school district is working with IFHS to send out information about the approval of the vaccine for this age group, according to Superintendent Robbie Swint Jr.

“We're encouraging students 5 to 11 to go and get vaccinated,” he said.

Parents who are interested in getting their children vaccinated can get on a waitlist by calling the wellness center at 581-2742 or IFHS at 581-1202.

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