By Karen Stokes
Parents in Wisconsin can now schedule appointments for COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 at doctors’ offices and retailers including Walgreens, Hayat Pharmacy, CVS and others.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently determined the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both met the criteria for emergency use authorization for children.
The emergency use authorizations for Pfizer-BioNTech’s for children 6 months through 4 years of age and Moderna’s vaccine to include children 6 months through 5 years of age.
Last Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also signed off on vaccinations for children under 5.
According to the CDC, as of May 28, more than 400 children between 0-4 years have died due to COVID.
The new guidelines qualify nearly 300,000 children in the state of Wisconsin for the vaccine.
Wisconsin state health officials pre ordered 48,500 of its nearly 126,000 allotted doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which have already arrived, said Karen Timberlake, secretary of the state Department of Health, during a press call Tuesday.
The vaccines will be shipped directly to larger health care systems she said.
As of Tuesday, about 62% of adolescents 12 to 17 and 28% of kids ages 5 to 11 got a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine statewide, according to DHS data.
With an allocation of just under 126,000 doses, Wisconsin health officials will place additional orders as the rollout continues, Timberlake said.
“Both Moderna and Pfizer reduced the dose from what an adult would get. It’s a smaller dose and they tested it over several months to see what the right dose is, that’s safe and minimizes side effects,” said Dr. Cameron Webb, Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity on the White House COVID-19 Response Team.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be given at a 3-microgram dose, which is one-tenth the size of the adult dose. Three doses will provide the same protection as seen in young adults after two doses, making it a three-dose vaccine for children. Moderna recommends its second dose after about a month, while Pfizer suggests a second dose after three weeks followed by a third shot eight weeks later.
Thursday was the first day the vaccines are available for children under 5 at the Menomonee Valley site and the Northwest and Southside health centers.
Most pharmacies will only vaccinate children 3 years of age and older because most pharmacies, including Walgreens due to the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act which prohibits pharmacies from administering a vaccine to a child under 3.
One exception is CVS Pharmacy, which will administer COVID-19 vaccines to younger children 18 months and up at its national network of 1,100 MinuteClinic locations.
The MinuteClinics are made up of family nurse practitioners, physician associates, and nurses who have a background of giving vaccinations to children. The clinics also provide private exam rooms to make families more comfortable with getting a shot, said spokesperson Amy Thibault in an email to the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Tuesday. The PREP Act applies to pharmacists.
Parents should call to confirm with their pharmacy.
“The best way to get an appointment as soon as possible is to first call your regular pediatrician or family doctor,” Timberlake said.
An updated list of vaccine sites will be found at www.vaccines.gov.