COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Following the CDC’s final approval of Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot for children ages 5 to 11, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff explained the vaccine’s benefits.

Vanderhoff said that 15 children in Ohio have died from the virus, and 2,000 children have been hospitalized. Children can get seriously ill with COVID-19, or experience long-term side effects from the virus.

In children the vaccine’s side effects are less frequent and less severe than in adults, the doctors said. The vaccine reduces complications, hospitalizations and risk of deaths in children from COVID-19.

It takes about five weeks to get maximum protection.

“As parents and families think about important dates this winter, and in the holiday season, they should count backward to ensure their children are going to be protected,” Vanderhoff said.

The Vax-2-School program will be available for those kids who are vaccinated and register in time. There will be two drawings — November 22 and November 29 — and winners announced daily from November 29 to December 3. There will be 150 scholarships awarded worth $10,000 each and five $100,000 scholarships to an Ohio college or university for career or technical education.

“Today is a day that many children and numerous adults — parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts, uncles, pediatricians, teachers, and coaches — have long awaited,” said Vanderhoff after the news of the CDC’s approval was announced. “The authorization of this COVID-19 vaccine for younger Ohioans is yet another crucial turning point in this pandemic, allowing us to better protect young children from severe complications from COVID-19. This deadly virus has killed more than 24,000 Ohioans, and has caused nearly 206,000 pediatric infections among those ages 17 and younger.”

A release from the ODH says that as of Nov. 1, more than 2,000 Ohio children under 18 had been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 15 had died. However, children are less likely than adults to get severely ill from COVID-19, according to the ODH.

“Just like adults, when children become sick from COVID-19, they can spread it to others and suffer severe health outcomes, or even death,” explained Vanderhoff. “When more people are vaccinated, it lessens the opportunity for dangerous variants to take hold, helping us to get control of this pandemic.”

The ODH says the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine pediatric formulation is a smaller 10 microgram dose compared with the dose of 30 micrograms used in adults and adolescents 12 and older.

“It is arriving in Ohio on a staggered schedule over the coming days. Providers across the state, including local health departments, pediatricians, family physicians, community health centers, adult and children’s hospitals, and pharmacies, are receiving shipments and will be scheduling appointments or accepting walk-ins. As the shipments arrive and following the CDC’s recommendation, providers can begin to administer the vaccine,” the release reads.

Columbus Public Health is standing by with the vaccine doses for children aged 5 to 11, according to a social media post.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital has scheduled a vaccine clinic at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday.

There are an estimated 997,570 Ohioans ages 5 to 11 years old, bringing the total of Ohioans eligible to be vaccinated based on age to 10,998,272, approximately 94% of the state’s population, according to the ODH.

For more information, you can visit gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-427-5634 to locate a provider or make an appointment.