Vaccinating Young Kids
Millions of mini-doses of COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be shipped to states this week after the federal government gave the go-ahead for shots in all children as young as 6 months old. But the rollout of this vaccination program will look different from past initiatives, at least in New Jersey. Pediatric vaccines will be available at the state’s two remaining regional COVID-19 mega-sites, but pediatricians and family doctors, community clinics and local health departments will also be among the first to offer the tot-sized doses. Drugstores have also requested early shipments. NJ state officials have provided millions of dollars to community-based organizations to operate testing and vaccination programs and develop effective strategies for attracting New Jerseyans. Many groups are focusing on families with young children, now that children under 5 years old are eligible for a COVID-19 shot. Ideas include weaving COVID-19 immunizations into regular well-child visits and back-to-school checkups, pop-up clinics with dedicated outreach in advance, and education campaigns targeted to under-vaccinated areas. Generally speaking, children are at less risk of bad COVID-19 outcomes than older, vulnerable adults, but they are far from immune and health experts agree that the protective power of the COVID-19 vaccines, while not as effective against some new coronavirus strains, is undeniable.