(CMR) Dr. Autilia Newton, acting Interim Chief Medical Officer, has confirmed that there are two key barriers to administering pediatric vaccines in the Cayman Islands. To date only vulnerable children ages 5-11 can receive access to the Pfizer vaccine. The disclosure was made during a private media Zoom session Monday morning meant to address media queries directly.
Dr. Newton noted that the first issue is that they are using adult vials for administering it to children. Therefore it requires an experienced person to properly prepare and give the dosage of the vaccine to children. Specific Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 5–11-year-olds comes packaged as a new product. On the CDC's website, they shared that it is a new product with new packaging, new preparation, and a new national drug code (NDC).
They shared that the current product for adults and adolescents should not be used in children. The packaging configuration comes in 10-dose vials in cartons of 10 vials each (100 doses total). The product is delivered in a newly updated product shipper at -80°C. Once the product arrives at the provider site, it can be stored for up to 10 weeks at 2 to 8°C and 6 months at ultracold temperatures of -90 to -60°C. Once a vial is opened doses must be used within 6 hours.
Covid-19 pediatric vaccines will require a diluent. The diluent will be provided with ancillary supplies which ancillary supplies are configured specifically for use in children. Reconstruction of the product for use in 5-11 year-olds use a different volume of diluent uses a different volume of diluent than the adult formulation.
The United Kingdom is expected to get a supply of this age-specific drug by the end of the month and a portion of that will then be allocated to the overseas territories including the Cayman Islands.
The second reason for the delay is that advice given by the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is that only high-risk and vulnerable children should receive the vaccine at this time. This current stance is under review and the committee is expected to meet again in early February to re-evaluate their current position.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is an independent expert advisory committee that advises United Kingdom health departments on immunization, making recommendations concerning vaccination schedules and vaccine safety.