St. Louis area gets ready for COVID-19 vaccine rollout for kids younger than 5

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:40 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The St. Louis Metro is set to reach a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19, as children six months and older will soon be able to get vaccinated against the virus.

Some places across the country are set to begin administering those vaccines as early as Tuesday.

“We know there have been over 400 deaths in this age group, so it has impacted them, it has impacted them significantly even though it’s much less than what we’ve seen in other age groups. Number two, they can suffer from being in the hospital and having complications,” said Jason Newland, Washington University Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist. “And, number three, and potentially most importantly, is that all of these kids have loved ones, and these loved ones are likely in high-risk groups.”

Pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS are already making their appointments available online for families to get their younger children vaccinated.

A CVS spokesperson sent the following about their vaccination process:

We’ll begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for eligible children 18 months through 4 years of age at our 1,100 MinuteClinic locations starting on Tuesday (6/21). Appointments will be made available at on a rolling basis as locations receive supply. Our MinuteClinic clinicians, comprised of board-certified Family Nurse Practitioners, Physician Associates, and Nurses, have significant experience providing vaccinations to a younger population as well as private exam rooms, which will make the process easier for kids, parents, and guardians.

Walgreens has appointments available online at select locations across the country starting June 25.

Right now, St. Louis City and County Health Departments are still waiting on resources to begin administering the vaccine. A St. Louis County spokesperson says they should be ready to offer vaccines to children under five within a week at each of their three permanent clinics, and details will be announced soon.

A spokesperson for the city said in part, “We know many parents and guardians have long waited to vaccinate their children and are eager to protect them from COVID-19. The Department of Health wants to ensure this young population receives the vaccine in the safest and most supportive environment. To do this, the department will work with community partners to provide additional information soon on where parents and guardians can receive a vaccine for their child(ren).”

Mercy says they will begin administering vaccines to children between six months and 4-years-old this week.

BJC has a list of appointments available for children under five on their website:

“The child dose is 1/4 of the adult dose. So, we dialed it down to this young age group so that we know it works. We get the same response with their immune systems, and it’s safe,” said Newland. “If you’ve had a child of this age group that’s been infected with COVID-19 in the last two to three months, I think it’s okay to wait three months after their infection to get their vaccine. So, that’s the only reason I would wait.”

Some parents in the Metro have been patiently waiting for this day to come.

“We’ve been having parents calling saying, ‘Hey are we ready yet? Are we ready yet? How about now?’ for months. So, there is definitely going to be a subset of parents who are very excited and want to do everything they can to protect their kids,” said Jon Lakamp, Mercy’s Chief Pharmacy Officer.

However, health experts say there is still a chance some parents in the region will be cautious about getting their young children vaccinated. That is where they say talking to your location pediatrician could help quell initial concerns.

“I think having that discussion with someone they trust, with their pediatrician, someone that they have that relationship with, is really going to be an important piece of the decision for parents to get their kids vaccinated and help protect them.,” said Lakamp.

Newland and Lakamp stress that this vaccine is safe for kids to take if families choose to get it. They also say women who got vaccinated while pregnant should also consider getting their child vaccinated after they are 6-months-old because they will have lost some immunity from the vaccine the mother received.

To make an appointment through the St. Louis County Health Department, click here. To make one through St. Charles County’s Health Department, click here. For St. Clair County, Illinois, click here.