How to Get a Covid Vaccine Shot for Your Kid

Every child 5 years and older is now eligible, but getting an appointment may take a little patience.,

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Covid shots for children ages 5 to 11 years have finally been authorized, but it may take a few days or even a week or more before kid-size doses of the vaccine are widely available in your area.

On Tuesday, a panel of experts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its blessing for a lower dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to protect younger children against Covid-19. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, has signed off on the recommendations, clearing the way for the parents of 28 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 in the United States to get their kids vaccinated.

But parents rushing to make vaccine appointments are likely to discover they can’t get the shot as quickly as they might have hoped. In the past, shots for older children or booster shots for adults immediately became available a day or two after the committee vote. But that’s because the vaccines for children 12 and older are identical to those given to adults. The shots created just for younger children are still being distributed around the country.

Younger children will receive one-third of the dose authorized for those 12 and older, delivered with smaller needles and stored in smaller vials to avoid mix-ups with adult doses. Like older kids and adults, young children will return three weeks after the first dose for a second shot.

“Vaccination for 5 to 11 is different than vaccinations for adults,” Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said in an interview. “This is a new program designed from the ground up specifically for kids.”

Mr. Zients said that there was plenty of supply to fully vaccinate all children in that age group and that 15 million doses had already been packed and shipped. By Friday, more than seven million doses will have been delivered to thousands of sites around the country.

“We’ll see the first sets of kids start to get vaccinated late this week,” Mr. Zients said.

The full children’s Covid vaccination program should be fully “up and running” sometime during the week of Nov. 8, Mr. Zients said. Children can be vaccinated at more than 20,000 sites, including pediatric and family medical practices, children’s hospitals, pharmacies and school clinics, Mr. Zients said. Parents can call their pediatricians, check local health department websites or go to Vaccines.gov to find locations offering the children’s Covid vaccine.

The children’s vaccination campaign is expected to follow a different pattern from that for adults, many of whom just walked into pharmacies to get their shots. Survey data shows that 62.8 percent of parents say a family’s regular doctor’s office is the most trusted place to get a child vaccinated. Only 34 percent said they trusted getting children vaccinated at a local pharmacy. Just 14.8 percent said they would let a child get vaccinated at school without a parent present.

While health officials urged parents to be patient as they try to schedule appointments in the coming days, the larger question is how many parents will seek out vaccinations for young children. Some parents, even those who are vaccinated, are worried about giving children a brand-new vaccine, especially since most coronavirus cases in youngsters are mild.

According to a survey released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 27 percent of parents are eager to get a vaccine for their younger children as soon as one is authorized, while a third say they will wait to see how the vaccine is working. Three in 10 parents say they will definitely not get the vaccine for their teenagers or children.

What to Know About Covid-19 Booster Shots

The F.D.A. has authorized booster shots for millions of recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna recipients who are eligible for a booster include people 65 and older, and younger adults at high risk of severe Covid-19 because of medical conditions or where they work. Eligible Pfizer and Moderna recipients can get a booster at least six months after their second dose. All Johnson & Johnson recipients will be eligible for a second shot at least two months after the first.

Yes. The F.D.A. has updated its authorizations to allow medical providers to boost people with a different vaccine than the one they initially received, a strategy known as “mix and match.” Whether you received Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer-BioNTech, you may receive a booster of any other vaccine. Regulators have not recommended any one vaccine over another as a booster. They have also remained silent on whether it is preferable to stick with the same vaccine when possible.

The C.D.C. has said the conditions that qualify a person for a booster shot include: hypertension and heart disease; diabetes or obesity; cancer or blood disorders; weakened immune system; chronic lung, kidney or liver disease; dementia and certain disabilities. Pregnant women and current and former smokers are also eligible.

The F.D.A. authorized boosters for workers whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure to potentially infectious people. The C.D.C. says that group includes: emergency medical workers; education workers; food and agriculture workers; manufacturing workers; corrections workers; U.S. Postal Service workers; public transit workers; grocery store workers.

Yes. The C.D.C. says the Covid vaccine may be administered without regard to the timing of other vaccines, and many pharmacy sites are allowing people to schedule a flu shot at the same time as a booster dose.

Members of the C.D.C. committee who recommended the vaccines noted that they planned to get their own children and grandchildren vaccinated. They cited data showing that for every nine children vaccinated, one Covid infection would be prevented. Several members also said they were reassured by the safety data for the vaccine and gravely concerned about the toll Covid-19 had taken on children and their caregivers.

To date, nearly two million children ages 5 to 11 in the United States are known to have been infected with the virus, and 8,300 have been hospitalized. A third of those hospitalized were admitted to intensive care units, and at least 170 have died. More than 120,000 children in the United States have lost a parent or caregiver to the disease.

“I have a child in this age group, and I’m going to take my child to get this vaccine,” said Veronica McNally, a committee member who leads the Franny Strong Foundation, a childhood vaccine advocacy group in West Bloomfield, Mich. “To say that this disease does not impact kids is not an accurate statement.”

Dr. Matthew F. Daley, a committee member and senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Research in Aurora, Colo., said it was important that doctors listen to parents’ concerns about the safety and potential side effects of the vaccine.

“It’s understandable you have questions and concerns,” Dr. Daley said, speaking to parents just before the committee voted. “I would encourage you to talk to your child’s pediatrician. They know your child, they know your family, and they can walk you through this.”

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