Safe, free and effective vaccinations meant to help prevent COVID-19 infection and illness are now available and recommended for younger, school-aged children, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now endorses the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 in an appropriate dose for that age group.
Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, is encouraging Wyoming parents to choose vaccination for their children. “Vaccination is the best way to protect kids 5 and over from COVID-19,” she said. “It can help keep kids stay in school and help them participate more safely in all sorts of activities.”
“We have certainly seen children become infected with the COVID-19 virus. Some have been very ill and some may be facing both short and long-term health issues,” Harrist said. “We also know children can spread COVID-19 to others, including the very youngest who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, and those of any age who may be especially vulnerable to the virus and its effects.”
Children ages 5-11 can now receive a Pfizer vaccine in an amount meant specifically for them. Two of these doses are needed, spaced three weeks apart. Children can receive other vaccines, including flu shots, at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine.
Before a COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for children ages 5-11, scientists and medical experts completed a review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials of thousands of children. “Vaccination for youth 12 and older has also been available for several months, with millions of youth already safely vaccinated across the nation,” Harrist said.
Detailed information about the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, including questions and answers for parents about safety and potential side effects, is available from the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html.
Harrist said Wyoming remains vulnerable to COVID-19 largely due to the aggressive Delta variant. “For those people who are eligible and not yet vaccinated, getting started with COVID-19 vaccines is the most important step available to help prevent COVID-19 illness and spread in our state,” she said. “It is the best way to reduce our vulnerability to this virus and its effects.”
All COVID-19 vaccine doses, whether for children or adults, continue to be offered at no cost to those who receive them.
A beginning supply of the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has already been delivered to public health offices across the state. For now, parents should contact their local public health office or pharmacies in some larger stores for information on getting a vaccine for children ages 5-11. Other approved COVID-19 vaccine providers, including some doctors’ offices, are working with local public health offices to receive vaccine this week and will be able to order doses beginning next week.
While it may take a short time for information on availability of the children’s version to be updated and fully available, convenient ways to find where to get COVID-19 vaccines include:
· Text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX) or 822862 (VACUNA) to find up to three nearby locations that have vaccines available.
· Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 1-800-232-0233 for phone-based help.
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after two doses of either a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two weeks after one dose of the Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. Pfizer vaccines are the only ones available for children and youth.
More information from WDH about vaccination in Wyoming can be found at https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/immunization/wyoming-covid-19-vaccine-information/.