Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11 in Colorado
State public health officials are partnering with Children’s Hospital Colorado to offer vaccine clinics beginning on Friday
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed a CDC advisory panel’s recommendation that children ages 5 to 11 receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The decision comes a week after the Food and Drug Administration vaccine advisory panel voted to recommend authorizing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The vote followed a hearing on whether the benefits of the vaccine outweigh potential risks for people ages 5 to 11.
Here is what parents should know about the vaccine for 5- to-11-year-olds in Colorado.
Where can my child get the vaccine?
Beginning on Friday, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is partnering with Children’s Hospital Colorado to offer clinics for children ages 5 to 11 to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Parents can sign their children up for an appointment in advance through a Google calendar.
Children’s Hospital Colorado is offering COVID-19 vaccine clinics for children ages 5 to 11 in Highlands Ranch, Broomfield, Aurora, and Colorado Springs this weekend, and throughout the month of November.
The vaccine is free and parents do not need to show an ID or insurance for their children to get the shot. Proof of residency is not required.
Other providers are also offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11, including providers in Arapahoe County, Conejos County, and Kit Carson County. Parents can make appointments in advance for their children with these providers through a form provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Many of the providers will vaccinate children who they do not see regularly as patients.
The Pueblo Zoo is hosting a vaccine clinic on Friday, and will have the Pfizer vaccine for children, as well as the Johnson and Johnson and Moderna vaccine for adults available. People will also be able to get a flu shot at the clinic.
Almost 400 vaccine providers in Colorado have ordered Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, in preparation for the rollout of vaccinations, according to CDPHE.
More information about the vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds can be found on the state’s COVID-19 website.
Children ages 12 to 17 can get a COVID-19 vaccine at any provider that offers Pfizer vaccines. At some locations, parents will be able to get a booster vaccine when they bring their child in to get vaccinated.
Pfizer is currently the only vaccine available to people under 18. While Moderna has said its vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 6 to 11, it is not yet available to anyone under 18. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is not available to anyone under 18.
There are over 1,700 COVID-19 vaccine providers in Colorado.
Why should I get my child vaccinated?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, children were 16.6% of total cumulated COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to the AAP. For the week of Oct. 21 through Oct. 28, children made up 24.2% of reported weekly COVID-19 cases. There were 100,630 COVID-19 cases reported in children that week. Children make up 22% of the country’s total population.
The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the recommendation for children ages 5 to 11 to get vaccinated.
“Sharing this life-saving vaccine with our children is a huge step forward and provides us all with more confidence and optimism about the future,” AAP President Lee Savio Beers said in a statement on Tuesday. “Pediatricians are eager to participate in the immunization process and talk with families about this vaccine. We want to ensure that access to this vaccine is equitable, and that every child is able to benefit.”
“While children are less likely to become severely ill from the virus that causes COVID-19, kids can get and spread the virus, they can get sick, and some have been hospitalized,” said Sean O’Leary, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “Some children have even died, though fortunately deaths have been very rare.”
“By getting this shot, our kids can enjoy in-person learning with their teachers and classmates without fear of getting sick,” Polis said in a statement after the CDC announced the approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. “Our kids can go back to being kids! I can’t tell you enough what a relief this is as a parent of two young children who are now eligible to get their vaccine.”
Polis and his husband Marlon Reis have two children, a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old.
“Colorado stands ready to swiftly distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to kids across all four corners of our state, ensuring equitable distribution and widespread access to every child in need of the lifesaving vaccine,” Polis said.
COVID-19 cases are rising in Colorado, with 1 in 51 Coloradans infected with COVID-19.
“As of today, we have 1,847 Coloradans hospitalized,” said Rachel Herlihy, Colorado state epidemiologist in a statement on Tuesday. “That is the highest number we have seen in Colorado this year. Given these numbers, it’s critical that unvaccinated Coloradans get vaccinated to drive down hospitalizations and slow the spread of COVID.”
In September, a statewide modeling report released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado School of Public Health estimated that 1 in 99 people in Colorado were infectious with COVID-19.
In May, the FDA and CDC authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 to 15. The CDC director issued a statement on May 12 endorsing the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine for people 12 to 15.
Is it safe for my child?
Public health experts say the vaccines are safe and effective.
The COVID-19 vaccine was almost 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 5 to 11, according to a CDC statement.
In clinical trials, the side effects of the vaccine were “mild” and “self-limiting,” and similar to the side effects seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended to children, according to the CDC. In the trials, the most common side effect was a sore arm.
“COVID-19 vaccines have undergone — and will continue to undergo — the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history,” the CDC said.
The Pfizer vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children ages 5 to 11 who received the vaccine, according to the FDA. The FDA website says there have been no serious side effects detected in the ongoing study.
“The FDA is committed to making decisions that are guided by science that the public and healthcare community can trust,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said. “We are confident in the safety, effectiveness and manufacturing data behind this authorization.”
Vaccine providers are required to report serious adverse events and vaccine administration errors to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
The ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines are safe.
The FDA advisory panel reviewed the risks of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, that has been linked to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in older boys and young men. Pediatric cardiologist Matthew Oster told the panel that the risk of vaccine-related myocarditis is lower for kids than the risk of having COVID-19. NPR reports that there were no cases of myocarditis in Pfizer’s clinical trial for children ages 5 to 11, but the company acknowledged that the trials were “not big enough to pick up such rare events.”
COVID-19 has killed more than 741,000 people in the United States, including more than 8,400 in Colorado.
“We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Walensky said. “As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated.”
Walensky has three children.
Over 423 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States between Dec. 14 2020 and Nov. 1, 2021, according to the CDC.
The CDC recommends that people ages 5 and up get vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccines are not approved for anyone under 5 years of age.
The CDC recommends that unvaccinated people older than 2 wear a face mask in public indoor places.
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