ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – The St. Louis Metro will meet a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19 as children as young as six months old can soon be vaccinated against the virus.
Some locations across the country are scheduled to begin administering these vaccines as early as Tuesday.
“We know there have been over 400 deaths in that age group, so it’s impacted them, it’s impacted them significantly, although it’s a lot less than what we’ve seen in other age groups. Second, they can suffer and have complications in the hospital,” said Jason Newland, a Washington University pediatric infectious disease specialist. “And number three and possibly most importantly, all of these children have loved ones, and those loved ones are likely to be in at-risk groups.”
Pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS are already making their appointments available online for families to get their younger children vaccinated.
A CVS spokesman sent the following about their vaccination process:
We will begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to eligible children ages 18 months to 4 years at our 1,100 MinuteClinic locations on Tuesday (6/21). Dates will be announced below MinuteClinic.com on an ongoing basis as locations are supplied. Our MinuteClinic clinicians, comprised of board-certified family nurses, physicians and nurses, have extensive experience in providing immunizations to a younger population, as well as private exam rooms to facilitate the process for children, parents and guardians.
Walgreens is offering online appointments at select locations across the country beginning June 25.
At this time, St. Louis City and County Health Departments are still awaiting resources to begin administering the vaccine.
A spokesman for the city said, among other things: “We know that many parents and guardians have been waiting a long time to vaccinate their children and are desperate to protect them from COVID-19. The Department of Health wants to ensure that this young population receives the vaccine in the safest and most supportive environment. To that end, the department will work with community partners to soon provide additional information on where parents and guardians can obtain a vaccine for their child(ren).”
Mercy says they will start giving vaccines to children between the ages of six months and four years this week.
BJC has a schedule for children under the age of five on its website: https://vaccinate.bjc.org/schedule.
“The child dose is 1/4 of the adult dose. So we narrowed it down to this young age group so we know it works. We get the same response with their immune systems, and it’s safe,” Newland said. “If you’ve had a child in that age range who got infected with COVID-19 in the last two to three months, I think it’s okay to wait three months after they’re infected to get their vaccine. So that is the only reason I would wait.”
Some parents in the Metro have been patiently waiting for this day.
“We’ve had parents call and say, ‘Hey, are we done yet? Are we ready yet? How about now?’ for months. So there’s definitely going to be a subset of parents who are very excited and want to do whatever it takes to keep their kids safe,” said Jon Lakamp, Mercy’s chief pharmacy officer.
However, health experts say some parents in the region will still be cautious about getting their young children vaccinated. That’s where they say talking to your local pediatrician might help allay initial concerns.
“I think that discussion with someone they trust, with their pediatrician, someone they have that relationship with, is really going to be an important part of a parent’s decision to vaccinate their children and protect them,” Lakamp said .
Newland and Lakamp emphasize that this vaccine is safe for children if families choose to have it. They also say that women who were vaccinated during pregnancy should also consider getting their child vaccinated at 6 months of age as they have lost some immunity to the vaccine given to the mother.
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