LEXINGTON, KY. (Nov. 9, 2021) — Today, UK HealthCare officially opened its large-scale pediatric vaccination clinic in Lexington. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 on Oct. 26 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed vaccine distribution to this age group on Nov. 2. The pediatric vaccine clinic has been taking appointments for COVID-19 vaccines since last Thursday and begins administering the shots today.
“In the U.S., there are 28 million children under the age of 11 and have been among those severely affected by the delta variant of this virus,” said Lindsey Ragsdale, M.D., interim Chief Medical Officer of Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH). “Building on the success of the Kroger Field site, we have the resources to quickly set up a large-scale family-friendly operation to give Kentucky’s children the protection they need.”
The clinic is located on the first floor of the UK HealthCare outpatient facility at 245 Fountain Court. Although subject to change, hours of operation are expected to be from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Dependent on the availability of vaccine doses and available staff, the clinic is expected to be able to accommodate approximately 2,100 patients per week.
To help children who may be afraid of needles or are nervous in clinical settings, the clinic has several enhancements to make the vaccination experience less intimidating. These features, made in consultation with the Child Life staff at KCH include:
- An engaging environment with distractions for children.
- A sticker chart for younger patients to mark their progress throughout the clinic
- Coping and distraction items in the injection and waiting areas.
- Desensitization room for patients with developmental or sensory needs.
- Educational information for parents and caregivers about what to expect on vaccination day.
“Vaccinations can be stressful for some children,” said Jennifer Guilliams, coordinator of KCH’s Child Life program. “Our goal was to create an environment that is not only calm but has an element of playfulness to help keep kids engaged and focused.”
Additionally, UK HealthCare is providing education and training for pharmacists and other clinic staff who don’t normally work with children on how best interact with pediatric patients.
Kentucky Children’s Hospital has seen an increase in children admitted for severe COVID-19 as well as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a serious complication associated with COVID-19. Kentucky is ranked number one in the country for childhood obesity, and obesity is one of the biggest risk factors in severe COVID-19. The two-shot COVID vaccine has been shown to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death.
Registering for the Vaccine
Parents and legal guardians are strongly encouraged to have their children ages 5 to 11 vaccinated. Multiple children may be registered at once. To register, follow the steps below:
- Register at ukvaccine.org. Upon completion, a confirmation screen will appear and a confirmation email will be sent to the address used in the registration. IMPORTANT: If you registered your child(ren) at ukvaccine.org prior to Nov. 1, 2021, you will need to re-register in order to receive an invitation.
- Check email regularly. When it’s time to schedule an appointment per state guidance, and appointments become available, an email will be sent that contains a unique access code. This access code never expires and cannot be shared with anyone else. This email invitation to schedule may be delayed by several days depending on available appointments.
- Schedule your appointment using this access code. If the dates available do not work with your schedule, keep checking back as more appointments are added based on vaccine supply from the state.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. A team member will respond within 24-48 hours.
Answers to commonly asked questions about the vaccine
As the vaccine becomes available to young children, it is understandable that parents and caregivers may have some questions. On the FAQ page, UK HealthCare answers some of the most common questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine.
Testing and monoclonal antibody therapy
COVID-19 testing is free and widely available throughout the Kentucky. Find a testing site near you.
Although it is not a substitute for vaccination, monoclonal antibody therapy is an effective treatment for children ages 12 and up who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have high risk factors for severe complications. Kentucky Children’s Hospital is the state’s primary site for monoclonal antibody therapy. Click here to learn how to get a referral for treatment.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.