Kinney Drugs begins scheduling children for vaccine appointments next week, prepares for anxious patients


CICERO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — In the first three hours after Kinney Drugs opened pediatric vaccination appointments, more than 1,000 parents signed up their children.

The first shots will be given Monday at all 97 stores in New York and Vermont, with openings still available on various dates in November.

Each store should expect its shipment of pediatric vials between Friday and Saturday.

This week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on recommendations from both the CDC and FDA advisory panel that children ages 5-11 get a pediatric dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

In preparation of the approval, Kinney Drugs has given its pharmacy staff refreshed training on helping young patients anxious about needles and helping parents correctly hold their children during the injection.

At each pharmacy, Kinney offers a vibrating ice pack, shaped like a bumble bee named “Buzzy,” which helps distract a child’s arm just enough to help the shot go in easier.

In an interview with NewsChannel 9, Kinney Drugs President John Marraffa told parents: “You know your child better than anybody. Let our pharmacists know what helps soothe your child. Do they want to look at the vaccine? Do they want to not look at it?”

If they look at it, they’ll see vials with orange caps, a different color than the silver caps on adult versions of the vaccine.

Kinney’s president says his pharmacists will put matching orange stickers on syringes filled with pediatric vaccine as an obvious way to ensure there’s no confusion of who gets what shot.

Through its website, Kinney Drugs will offer pediatric vaccines at limited hours, mostly aligning with after-school hours. The president says his team allows more time to vaccinate children, in the event a patient is very upset.

The company’s upgraded its reservation system to allow families book all children all at once instead of hunting for matching appointments.

Marraffa, a parent of two sons in this age group, has a message for children: “My pharmacists, behind those masks, are going to be smiling, trying to do everything they can to make sure that you understand that we’re here to help you, not here to hurt you and we want to get you vaccinated so you can get back to doing all the fun things you want to do.”

Kinney Drugs is also working with Onondaga County and other area health departments to offer vaccine clinics at schools.

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