COVID vaccines for kids ages 5-11 are available in Missouri. Here's what parents need to know
Missouri's health department officially adopted new federal guidance on COVID-19 vaccines for children, giving the go-ahead on shots for kids ages 5 to 11.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave approval to distribute and use pediatric versions of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday. The Food and Drug Administration expanded its emergency use authorization on the Pfizer vaccine for children last week.
Here's what you need to know about getting your newly eligible kids vaccinated.
Where can my kids get the COVID-19 vaccine?
More than 116,000 doses of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine have been distributed across the state this week, the department said, with plans to "scale up to full capacity" over the next two weeks.
You can find out which medical providers have pediatric vaccines available at MOStopsCOVID.com. Later this week, vaccines.gov will list locations where the vaccine is available for kids. You can also text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby vaccine clinics.
What's different about the vaccine for kids?
The newly approved pediatric Pfizer vaccines contain a smaller dosage than the standard vaccine for those ages 12 and up — a third of the normal amount.
The vaccine is administered in two doses, received three weeks apart. The standard Pfizer vaccine for those ages 12 and up cannot be given to children ages 5 to 11.
That Pfizer vaccine for those ages 12 and up, as well as the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, are still authorized and available for those ages 18 and older.
Is the vaccine for kids safe? Are there side effects?
Clinical trials for Pfizer's pediatric vaccine found that it was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children, and was approved by medical experts at the CDC and FDA.
Those seeking more information on the vaccine can visit the Missouri Department of Health Senior Services' website, which includes a comprehensive frequently asked questions page at covidvaccine.mo.gov/facts.
“While it is less common for a child to become severely ill or need hospitalization due to COVID-19, that risk certainly does exist, which became more evident during the recent Delta variant surge,” said Donald Kauerauf, director of the department. “The Delta variant is still prevalent among COVID-19 cases, and it is impacting people differently than what we witnessed a year ago. Also, we know kids can and do spread the virus and can unknowingly cause severe illness in others including senior citizens and at-risk populations.”
Side effects from the vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 are mild — most commonly a sore arm — and similar to those felt by adults who receive the shot. They are signs of the body building protection against the virus and should fade within days.
How many children are newly eligible for the vaccine?
According to census data, the vaccines being available for kids ages 5 to 11 means more than 553,000 new Missourians are now able to receive shots.
As of Wednesday, 3,046,271 Missourians — 49.6% of the total population — has completed vaccination against COVID-19.