COVID-19 vaccines now available for kids 6 months through 4 years old in Boone County

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Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services nurse Taylor Knoth prepares to give a COVID-19 vaccination to Stone Leonard, 5, in November as his mother, Jessica, a volunteer at Mill Creek Elementary School, holds her son.
Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services nurse Taylor Knoth prepares to give a COVID-19 vaccination to Stone Leonard, 5, in November as his mother, Jessica, a volunteer at Mill Creek Elementary School, holds her son.

Children 6 months and older can now receive COVID-19 vaccinations from the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Appointments opened Monday for kids 6 months through 4 years old to get Pfizer shots.

The health department plans to hold extended clinic hours on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 6 p.m. for COVID vaccinations, the department said in an announcement. Appointments can be made at www.como.gov/health/covid19-vaccine-appointments. In addition, residents can make appointments Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. by calling 573-874-7356. Appointments will be at 1005 W. Worley St.

"The new guidance for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 6 months through 4 years includes a 3-dose series," the health department said. "The first and second doses should be separated by at least 3 weeks and the second and third doses should be separated by at least 8 weeks."

More: Boone County raised to medium community risk level for COVID-19 cases

COVID vaccines from the department are free and do not require ID or health insurance, the department said. Parents or guardians should speak to their child’s doctor if they have specific questions.

After review and authorization from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doses of COVID vaccines were recommended last week for all individuals at least 6 months old.

The health department said last week it was awaiting vaccine supply before starting vaccinations for the youngest eligible age group.

"Other local vaccinators may offer COVID-19 vaccinations to the new age group but it is recommended to contact the provider to confirm availability," the department said.

Slightly different than the Pfizer option, the new guidance for use of the Moderna vaccine in children ages 6 months to 5 years includes a 2-dose series. Those shots should be separated by at least 4 weeks.

There is currently no FDA-approved or -authorized COVID vaccine for children younger than 6 months. These children should not receive any COVID vaccine doses.

Last Tuesday was the first day nationwide that children at least 6 months but less than 5 years old could receive the COVID vaccine.

Every other age group of Americans has long had access to the vaccines, except babies younger than 6 months old, who can get protection from the parent's vaccination during pregnancy.

In polling data from April, 18% of parents said they would vaccinate their young child right away, while 27% said they definitely wouldn't and 38% said they'd wait and see, USA Today reported.

Parents have told experts they're concerned about adding another shot to their child’s pediatric vaccine schedule. The CDC said adults can be co-administered with the COVID vaccine and flu vaccine, but the agency has yet to make any recommendations for the youngest tots.

Although young children have largely been spared the worst of COVID, they can become seriously ill, and more than 200 have died from infections, according to data presented by the FDA.

Half of the young children hospitalized with COVID did not have any preexisting conditions before they fell ill, the FDA said.

Pediatricians worry the "wait and see" approach parents appear to be taking could mean many children won't be protected against COVID in time for the fall, when many experts predict another surge in cases.

Pfizer's COVID vaccine for children 5 to 11 has been authorized in the U.S. since October, but as of June 8, only 36% received at least one dose, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

USA Today contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: COVID vaccines available for kids 6 months to 4 years old in Columbia