Americans as young as six months old are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jun 20, 2022

MILWAUKEE — Local health departments, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices are prepared to start vaccinating children ages 6 months to 5 years old. Most places are still just waiting on shipments of the pediatric vaccine from Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS).

DHS says shipments began to arrive in Wisconsin Monday, and will continue arriving at various clinics across the state throughout the week. It looks like shots in little arms could start happening as soon as Tuesday in the Milwaukee area.

Every pharmacy and pediatrician we called say their phones have been ringing off the hook, as parents try to make appointments and get their young kids vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We’ve been waiting for this,” said Carlton Bailey, who has two sons under 4 years old. “I’m so excited. As soon as we find a spot to take them for the shot, we’ll be there. We haven’t been anywhere in the past two years as a family because we’ve been waiting on their vaccination. We’re looking forward to getting together with more people, going to museums, and traveling now.”

But a recent survey by Kaiser Family Foundation finds nearly 40 percent of parents in the U.S. want to “wait and see” before getting their child vaccinated.

“I’m going to wait a little bit,” said Timesha Smith, who has a one-year-old son. “I’m a little skeptical. I’m considering it though.”

“My main concern are the side effects, because they’re so young,” said Sheon Fountain, who has a one-year-old daughter. “I know doctors are saying it’s the right thing to do, but in the back of my mind I’m still wondering if it really is.”

Dr. Bill Hartman at UW Health has been working directly with kids who’ve been given the vaccine through Moderna’s clinical trial.

“I know these vaccines are safe and effective in kids,” he said. “There have been very few side effects. The benefits far outweigh the risks. Kids who received vaccine versus placebo had antibody levels similar to what older kids and adults have. It makes them much more protected from the risk of severe illness from Covid-19.”

When it comes to the pediatric vaccine, there is a Moderna and Pfizer option.

Moderna’s is two doses given four weeks apart, for kids 6 months to 5 years old. Each pediatric dose is about one quarter of an adult dose.

Pfizer's option is a three-dose regimen. The first two doses are given three weeks apart. The third is given 8 weeks after the second shot. It is for kids 6 months to 4 years old. Each pediatric dose is about one tenth of an adult dose.

Doctors recommend getting whichever your healthcare provider has.

Dr. Hartman says common side effects are soreness in the arm or leg where the shot is given, and a slight fever.

“The longest fever that we saw was 48 hours and was easily treated with Tylenol,” said Dr. Hartman. “The kids are a little bit tired after their shot, as they are with every vaccine.”

The Milwaukee Health Department is tentatively planning to start administering the pediatric vaccine this Thursday. Some pediatrician offices are aiming for sooner than that.

As for pharmacies, check with yours. Not all are offering the pediatric vaccine because pharmacists in Wisconsin can only immunize ages 3 and up. Some, like Hayat and North Shore Pharmacy, are bringing nurses in to vaccinate babies.

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Coronavirus in Wisconsin

More data on Wisconsin's vaccination progress here.

Find a vaccination site here.

Check out county-by-county coronavirus case numbers here.

More information: COVID-19 on the Wisconsin DHS website

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