CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- Timothy Hunt already scheduled an appointment on Saturday for his 8-year-old son Benjamin to receive his first dose of the pediatric version of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19.
"We have a few health conditions, so we're a bit higher risk. And we just want to try and mitigate the risk as much as possible, both for our son and also for ourselves," he said.
The FDA recently approved use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids between ages 5-11. Approval from the CDC came Tuesday, and health officials will have child-size shots ready to administer Saturday at John C. Murphy Health Center in Berkeley. The St. Louis County Department of Health got their first shipment of 300 doses for child-size shots and have all appointments booked for Saturday.
Health officials plan to expand locations offered next week for kids ages 5-11 to all three permanent county health centers and four area library branches.
The St. Louis County Health Department plans to start vaccinating children between the ages of 5-11 against COVID-19 this weekend, County Executive Sam Page said. The vaccinations will not start at St. Louis County libraries until Nov. 10.
Vaccine clinics in St. Louis County
Health Care Centers
- Through the entire month, John C. Murphy Center will be open from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. The center will open on two Saturdays, Nov. 13 and Nov. 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Until Nov. 23, South County Health Center vaccines will be available on Tuesdays and Thursday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
- At the North Central Community Health Center, families can get vaccinated from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Lewis & Clark Branch, 9909 Lewis-Clark Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63136 Every Wednesday from 1:00-7:00 p.m.
- Natural Bridge Branch, 7606 Natural Bridge Rd., St. Louis, MO 63121
- Every Thursday from 1:00-7:00 p.m.
- Florissant Valley Branch, 195 New Florissant Rd., S., Florissant, MO 63031
- Every Friday from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
- Rock Road Branch, 10267 St. Charles Rock Rd., St. Louis, MO 63074
- Every Saturday from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Vaccines at Schools
Area school districts are also gearing up to vaccinate students in the newly eligible age range. The Rockwood School District has scheduled a vaccine clinic on Nov. 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Crestview Middle School.
The Parkway School District will hold a vaccine clinic at Central Middle School on Nov. 19, that runs 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Granite City School District has scheduled its vaccine clinic for Nov. 23 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Granite City High School.
Saint Louis Public Schools will hold a vaccine clinic on Nov. 13 from 9 a.m. until noon at Gateway Elementary School, 4 Gateway Drive. A second-dose clinic will be held on Dec. 4 at the same time and place.
The Edwardsville School District told News 4 they plan to hold vaccine clinics but will announce the details at a later date.
Children & COVID-19
"Vaccinations will allow our kids to learn in a safer environment and teachers to teach in a safer class," Page said. "Expanding eligibility will reduce community spread."
In effort to ensure parents who are unsure about vaccinating their child, Page said parents should talk to their child's pediatrician.
Dr. Jason Newland is a Washington University pediatric infectious disease physician at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Although children are less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19, he said the virus is responsible for 500 childhood deaths in the U.S.
"For use to get out of the pandemic we need to get everybody, we need to get as many people vaccinated as possible. And there are 28-million children 5-to-11 years of age, this will help us by vaccinating as many of them as possible," Newland said.
In St. Louis County, community transmission among children is higher than any other age group. The average rate of new cases is highest in groups of 5-9 of 20.3 cases per 100,000 per day. St. Louis County health officials hope to partner with schools in the future to provide on-site vaccinations for children.
News 4 asked parents if they were planning on getting their children vaccinated once the CDC clears distribution.
"We miss our big family gatherings especially around the holidays, so we're really looking forward to getting her vaccinated," said Erin Shetler, whose 8-year-old daughter, Amy, goes to school in St. Charles County.
“I’m really excited because if I can get vaccinated, I can see more of my family and my friends and I won’t have to wear my masks all the time,” said Amy. She told News 4 it’s been tough, even scary sometimes going to school as the COVID-19 virus continues to impact young children.
"Sometimes if I’m like in big crowds and not a lot of people are wearing masks, yeah, [it's scary]," she said.
Justin McCoy, a St. Charles County parent, has two children that could soon qualify for the vaccine.
"We’re actually on a first to be contacted list with our pediatrician’s office because we want to make sure that they can get it as soon as its available,” McCoy said.
News 4 also asked parents online if they will get their child vaccinated once it becomes available to ages 5 to 11. A total of 54% said yes, 39% said no and 7% remain unsure.
One of biggest concerns raised by parents is whether children will experience significant side effects with a smaller dosage size of the vaccine.
"Kids in general have the same side effects as adults, so you can expect them to have a fever, pain at the injection site, maybe they feel run down," said Dr. Jessica Smith. "That's totally to be expected."
Smith, a Mercy Clinic Pediatrician, says parents on the fence should ultimately have a conversation with their pediatrician and address any concerns ahead of scheduling a shot for their kids.
"I think another worry that parents have is about the risk of myocarditis in children when they studied the vaccine," said Smith. "We actually found that the risk of myocarditis is actually much higher if you actually catch COVID so when they evaluated this, they felt like the benefits strongly outweigh the risk of the vaccine for kids."
Local counties on their distribution plans for ‘child-size’ vaccines
St. Charles County officials sent the following information:
Once the St. Charles County Department of Public Health (DPH) receive Standing Orders from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the County will have mass events, library events and clinic appointments at the DPH. Appointments are preferred, and often required, for vaccinations with the Department of Public Health and its partners. For information on upcoming vaccination events or to schedule an appointment, individuals can visit www.sccmo.org/COVIDvaccine or call 636-949-1899.
St. Clair County officials say plans for distribution are still being finalized:
It will not likely be a mass distribution center but locations more confined at the Department of Health and other like locations. Plans should be finalized with in the next day or so with distribution to begin later this week.
St. Louis City is also actively working on distribution plans:
We are working with community partners, including Federally Qualified Health Centers and local hospital systems to provide children and their families the necessary tools to safely receive these vaccines in a timely fashion. The Department of Health will release additional information as it becomes available.
Some other area counties were not immediately available for comment.