By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Vaccine doses for children ages five to 11 have already been shipped to Maryland. Some are going directly to pharmacies and pediatricians. The state is also helping to coordinate vaccine clinics at schools.

“We’re very excited about it. I can’t tell you how great this is. Parents are going to be relieved,” Maryland Secretary of Health Dennis Schrader told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “Their children are going to get a safe vaccine that protects them.”

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Schrader said the state is initially getting about 180,000 doses. There are more than a half-million children in that age group in Maryland.

For Sheri Cox, who has an 11-year-old granddaughter in Baltimore City public schools, the vaccine cannot come soon enough.

“Kids can be positive and not show symptoms and that kind of worried me because she has asthma. We have diabetes and asthma in our family,” Cox said. “Yes, children need their shots because you never know what’s going to happen.

Anne Arundel County expects to start clinics this Friday and ramp up next week.

“There aren’t going to be as many vaccines in the beginning as we would like. …We won’t have enough doses for everybody in that first week,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said at a briefing Tuesday.

Like many other Maryland counties, Anne Arundel is not making appointments available right away.

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“The exact times that appointments will be released will be shared is either Wednesday evening or Thursday morning and is depending on the timing of the CDC’s announcement,” said Anne Arundel’s Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman. He said the Pfizer vaccine, given at 1/3 the dose for adults, is safe for kids and plans to give it to his own children.

“We anticipate that it will take 3 to 4 weeks for vaccine supplies to match the demand. This means there will be a wait for the first few days eels to get your child vaccinated but rest assured, we will vaccinate your children,” Dr. Kalyanaraman said.

Nationwide, surveys show parents are divided and about a third are reluctant to allow their kids to be vaccinated.

“We want to prevent children from getting covid,” Secretary Schrader said.

This comes as the Delta-plus variant has been detected in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and seven other states.

It is even more contagious than the fast-spreading regular Delta variant. But does not make you sicker and vaccines are still effective against it.

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“We’ve see a few cases in the state. we’re still evaluating,” Schrader said. “The more we vaccinate people. The less the spread and the less likely there are variants.”