Starting Tuesday, Massachusetts parents and guardians of children under 5 years old will be able to book appointments to get the youngsters COVID-19 vaccinations, after the CDC recommended the jab for kids as young as 6 months.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services said parents will have the ability to view available appointment locations on the vaxfinder.mass.gov website. The children are eligible to receive either the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the agency said in a statement.
The Pfizer shot for the youngest children is one-tenth of the adult dose, and three shots are needed. The first two are given three weeks apart, and the last at least two months later.
Moderna’s two-shot regimen, with each jab a quarter of its adult dose, are given about four weeks apart. The FDA also approved a third Moderna dose, at least a month after the second shot, for children with immune conditions that make them more vulnerable to serious illness.
The CDC in November 2021 had approved the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11, about six months after the agency had endorsed vaccinating kids as young as 12.
Sunday’s statement from Mass. officials said the Baker administration expects some 400 vaccine locations across the state will be available for the under-5 cohort in the coming weeks. Children, officials said, can get the vaccine at pediatricians’ offices, community health centers, state-supported vaccination sites, mobile clinics, and some pharmacies, depending on the business and the child’s age.
In addition, the statement said, people who can’t access the website can dial the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line by calling 2-1-1. The line is staffed Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and weekends from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.. The line is available in English and Spanish with translators available in roughly 100 additional languages, according to the statement.
Parents who want their child’s primary care provider to administer the vaccination should call the provider’s office directly, officials said. The vaccine is free, and there’s no need for insurance or an identification to get it, the statement continued.
“We know parents and families have been waiting for this, and we are pleased to have this last age group approved for the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Estevan Garcia, a pediatrician who is chief medical officer for the state Department of Public Health, in Sunday’s release.
“The vaccine for this age group has been rigorously tested and we encourage parents to add this vaccine to the list of critical vaccinations their children should receive,” Garcia said. “We urge parents to reach out to their child’s health care provider with any questions they may have.”
The US Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccines on Friday. Advisers to the CDC on Saturday recommended the vaccines for the littlest children, and the final signoff came hours later from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency’s director.
“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another iportant step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can. I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com.