Children ages five and up could be receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as early as this week in Kansas City.
On Wednesday, Nov. 3, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced it has adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation for children ages 5-11 to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC’s recommendation, announced Tuesday, Nov. 2, was made based on an in-depth review of available safety, immunogenicity and efficacy data. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children on October 29.
Previously, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for use in individuals age 12 and older. The vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 is a smaller dose (10 µg), which is a third of the dosage for individuals 12 years and older (30 µg). The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a series of two doses, three weeks apart, for all eligible individuals.
“As a parent myself, I understand the concerns about vaccinating their young children,” said Missouri DHSS Director Donald Kauerauf. “It is important to make an informed decision based on factual, scientific information, not what is available in a social media feed. I highly encourage parents to discuss their child’s vaccination with their pediatrician or trusted medical professional.”
In clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was found to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children aged 5 to 11. Vaccine side effects were mild and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children. These are normal signs that their body is building protection, but they should go away in a few days. The most common side effect was a sore arm.
“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,” Kauerauf said. “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.”
According to census data, more than 533,000 of Missouri’s population includes children ages 5 to 11 who will now be eligible for vaccination. Missourians over the age of 12 are still encouraged to get vaccinated if they have not done so to date. Sufficient supplies of vaccines are available throughout the state, according to Missouri DHSS, which answers frequently asked questions on its website, covidvaccine.mo.gov.
Last week, the Kansas City Health Department (KCHD) was awaiting a shipment of the Pfizer BioNTech pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.
During Pfizer’s clinical trials, the vaccination of children ages five to 11 with two doses was 91% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19.
In anticipation of this announcement, KCHD has been working with local partners to ensure the pediatric vaccine is accessible to all families who want it. The health department submitted an order through the state more than a week ago, and once the doses are received, the health department will announce the vaccine is available at the health department, 2400 Troost Ave., and will provide clinics throughout the month of November and December. Vaccines are free, and no identification, proof of residency, or insurance is required.
“If a child and their family have a pediatrician or a family practice doctor that they know and trust, the best option is to receive the vaccine from them,” said KCHD Interim Director Frank Thompson. “This visit offers the opportunity for the parent or guardian to discuss any questions related to the vaccine as well as any other health concerns, vaccines or screenings that may have been delayed. However, for families without a regular physician or a medical home or whose providers are not able to administer vaccines, the health department will have the pediatric vaccine available.”
As soon as it receives the pediatric vaccine, the health department will provide opportunities throughout the city for families to access vaccines. These events will be at schools, outreach public health clinics and special clinic events.
Once the pediatric vaccine is available, Kansas Citians can find a complete list of event locations at kcmo.gov/covid. KCHD will continue to update the webpage as more events are planned. Most locations do not require any pre-registration.
Children’s Mercy Hospital is another resource for parents. The hospital will begin offering Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine on Monday, Nov. 8, at its Gillham Road and Broadway campuses. Those interested can check their website, childrensmercy.org, for availability at other campuses and for other information on pediatric vaccinations. An appointment is currently required; those instructions can also be found on their website.
“We know many parents have been eager to protect their younger children against COVID-19 with this vaccination, and we want to make it as convenient as possible for them,” Thompson said. “We strongly encourage all of our residents to get vaccinated for COVID and for Influenza as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones as we head into the fall and winter holiday season.”
University Health (UH) will also begin Monday, Nov. 8, vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 years old following the issuing of the state of Missouri’s order.
At UH, there is no out-of-pocket fee. The vaccine will be billed to insurance or covered through community funding.
Parents can give consent over the phone, but it is preferred that they come with their child. An appointment is also preferred, made by calling 816-404-CARE (2273).
At UH Truman Medical Center, 2211 Charlotte, the vaccine clinic will run Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. Parents can also schedule an appointment with their child’s pediatric provider in the med/peds clinic at 816-404-4862.
At UH Lakewood Medical Center, 7900 Lee’s Summit Road, the clinic will run Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parents may also schedule an appointment with their child’s Family Medicine provider at 816-404-7650.
The Kansas City Public Library announced Friday that, starting next week, vaccines will be available to children aged 5 through 11 at KC CARE Health Center clinics at library locations. At this time, anyone eligible for a COVID vaccine or available booster shot, including the Moderna booster, can get one at the library clinics with no appointment. Spanish translators are available to help answer any questions.
On Thursdays through the end of the year, KC CARE will host a vaccine clinic at the North-East Branch, 6000 Wilson Ave., from noon to 6 p.m.
Distribution of just over 116,000 pediatric doses across the country began last week, with plans to scale up to full capacity over the next two weeks. Providers operating under the state’s standing orders should follow the guidance as written for COVID-19 vaccine administration for children aged 5 to 11. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that is given to adults and adolescents cannot be used for children aged 5 to 11.
Providers who pre-ordered pediatric vaccines are listed at MOStopsCovid.com, and later this week Vaccines.gov will list locations on an interactive map where vaccines are available. You can also text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.
Both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for use in individuals 18 years and older and will continue to be available to adults. Get the facts about COVID-19 vaccines and find a vaccine near you at MOStopsCovid.com.