With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children age six months and older, millions of young children are now eligible to be vaccinated. Here's what you need to know to find a vaccine appointment for tots in Minnesota.
Who is eligible to be vaccinated?
All Americans older than six months are eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The CDC recommends all eligible children should be vaccinated even if they have previously had COVID-19.
Which vaccines are available for younger children?
Children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years are currently eligible to receive either the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines are administered in smaller doses than older children and adults receive and are packaged differently, so it's important to make sure a provider has the appropriate dose size for your child.
Other COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been approved for use in children under 5.
How many vaccine doses will my child need?
Children age 6 months to 4 years should receive a "primary series" of three doses of the Pfizer vaccine, according to the CDC. The first and second doses should be administered three to eight weeks apart, with at least two months between the second and third doses.
The Moderna vaccine should be given in two doses, four to eight weeks apart. The provider can schedule the second appointment when your child receives their first shot. Children with weakened immune systems may require an additional dose of the Moderna vaccine. You can discuss this with your provider.
How can I find a vaccine appointment for my child?
More than 300 vaccine providers are available across the state. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) offers a vaccine locator tool to help you find an appointment.
In the Twin Cities, appointments for young children are available at the state's COVID-19 vaccination site at the Mall of America. Appointments are required for children under 5 years old. You can register for an appointment here.
The Health Department announced Sunday that 21 COVID-19 Community Coordinators will host clinics to vaccinate children under 5 in historically underserved communities across the state. MDH also announced a partnership with Children's Minnesota to host weekly vaccination clinics in Minneapolis, St. Paul, West St. Paul and Brooklyn Park. Those clinics are open to all families.
Should younger children receive booster shots?
The Food and Drug Administration is not currently recommending boosters for children under 5, though that could change in the future.
Will the vaccine prevent my child from getting COVID-19?
In studies, vaccinated youngsters developed levels of virus-fighting antibodies as strong as young adults, suggesting that the kid-size doses protect against coronavirus infections.
While children are less likely than adults to become severely ill after contracting COVID-19, nearly 1,000 children were hospitalized with the disease in Minnesota last year, according to MDH. Since the start of the pandemic, about 480 children under 5 are counted among the nation's more than 1 million COVID-19 deaths, according to federal data. Children with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or obesity are at higher risk for severe illness.
Kids who are fully vaccinated will not have to stay home and quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Are the vaccines safe?
The vaccines have been tested extensively and are safe for children, according to the CDC. However, like adults, children may experience side effects after receiving the vaccine, such as a sore arm or fever, though those effects are generally mild. If your child experiences severe adverse effects, call or see a doctor.
What if my child already had COVID-19?
About three-quarters of children of all ages are estimated to have been infected at some point. For older ages, the CDC has recommended vaccination anyway to lower the chances of reinfection.
Experts have noted reinfections among previously infected people and say the highest levels of protection occur in those who were both vaccinated and previously infected.
The CDC has said people may consider waiting about three months after an infection to be vaccinated.
Can my child receive other vaccines at the same appointment?
Yes, children may receive other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine, during the same visit.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.