Local pharmacy braces for wave of pediatric vaccine demand

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine was approved last week for emergency use in children as young as 5, and local vaccine sites, clinics and pharmacies have gathered to meet demand.

During the Thursday lunch hour, the line outside Mission Wellness Pharmacy (2424 Mission Street) was nearly empty. Things were picked up after school and the pharmacy had given nearly 100 pediatric doses by 5pm

“There’s a lot of pressure on the kids right now,” said Daniel, a staffer who trivializes the walk-ins and pre-registered vaccine seekers on their front door. “Boosters are also steadily going.”

They are putting chairs outside so that people can complete their 15-minute waits on the sidewalk as their indoor waiting area cannot accommodate more than ten people at a time under covid precautions.

Avery Manuel, 8, spent her waiting time outside with her mother. “It hurt a little bit,” she said of the shot, “but it felt better later on.”

Her mother said Avery was so excited when they got the appointment that she screamed. “I’ve been waiting a long time,” Avery said.

Kaiden Papp (left), 10, and Malin Papp (right), 6, pose with their mother to show off their Covid-19 “vaccine arm” and vaccine cards after receiving the injection at Mission Wellness Pharmacy on November 4, 2021. Photo by Anlan Cheney (edited for privacy).

Kaiden Papp, 10, and their sibling Malin, 6, were also eager to get their vaccines. “I was excited, but also a little nervous,” Kaiden said, explaining that he thought it might hurt.

“It hurt a bit,” Malin said. For Kaiden, “I barely noticed.”

“I feel safer already,” Kaiden added. “I am fascinated by the way vaccines work. It’s like injecting a small amount of pathogen so your body can get to know them and destroy them the next time they invade.’

Kaiden referred to how messenger RNA vaccines use material from the virus to stimulate an immune response, and he said he will encourage his friends at school to get the vaccine too.

Maria Lopez, a pharmacist and clinical services and residency program director at Mission Wellness Pharmacy, posted information leaflets at the store yesterday when a woman tapped her on the shoulder, grinning from ear to ear.

“I’m delighted,” said the woman, a longtime customer whose young child had just been vaccinated against Covid. “This is a big deal,” she said, hugging Lopez.

Lopez said parental expressions of gratitude are common — some even cry. She said the pharmacy is preparing for a weekday capacity to dispense 250 vaccines, and her team will dispense more at school sites on Saturday.

They have extended their clinic hours to 6:00 PM and are considering extending them as well.

She emphasized that the demand for the pediatric dose is very high and that the pharmacy is doing its best to prioritize that age group. “This is going to be a kid-centric site,” she wrote in an email, noting that the staff has experience with pediatric populations and speaks Spanish.

The Covid-19 vaccine is free. Make your or your child’s appointment online at Mission Wellness Pharmacy. For vaccination sites and citywide appointments, visit https://sf.gov/vaccine-sites.

For eligibility information, go here.

Comments are closed.