Upper Valley providers ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccine for kids 6 months through 4 years old

  • Anna Weiser, left, and her son Henry, 4, wait in an observation room after Henry was inoculated with the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years old, Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at Montefiore Medical Group in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Mary Altaffer

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/21/2022 10:21:38 PM
Modified: 6/22/2022 10:14:28 AM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Now that the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both given a thumbs-up to COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months through 4 years old, health officials in the Twin States are preparing to make them available later this month.

In New Hampshire, the Department of Health and Human Services sent out a health alert on Monday advising health care providers to counsel parents and caregivers that COVID-19 vaccination is “recommended and important” to protect children from COVID-19 and complications including multisystem inflammatory syndrome, hospitalization, death and long COVID symptoms.

Vaccination can also help prevent illness that may result in missed days from child care or school, and prevent parents and caregivers from missing work, the alert said.

“We are excited for this new recommendation that now allows parents and caregivers to protect their young children from COVID-19 and potential health complications,” Dr. Benjamin Chan, New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist, said in a news release from DHHS. “These vaccines are safe and effective, and we recommend that everybody 6 months of age and older get vaccinated.”

As of Tuesday, New Hampshire had received nearly 10,000 of the 22,700 doses of pediatric vaccine it had ordered, with more shipments arriving weekly, according to the DHHS news release. More than 200 health care providers in New Hampshire, including pediatricians at Dartmouth Health Children’s, are expected to provide COVID-19 vaccines to young children.

Dr. Susanne Tanski, section chief of general pediatrics at Dartmouth Health Children’s, said in a video DH released Tuesday that supplies will be limited at first, but current DH patients will be able to sign up for the shots starting this week through their myDH.org accounts.

Tanski emphasized that the vaccine is recommended even for children who have already had COVID-19. While some children may get a fever, or be fussy or tired following a shot, Tanski said, the “benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the risks of getting the vaccine or of getting COVID.”

The vaccines authorized for use in babies and toddlers are given in smaller doses than those for adults — Pfizer is one-tenth the dosage for adults; while Moderna is one-fourth. The Pfizer vaccine is to be given to children 6 months through 4 years in two doses, three weeks apart, followed by a third dose at least two months later. The Moderna vaccine is authorized for children 6 months through 5 years in two doses four weeks apart.

Vermlont health care providers are expected to begin receiving doses for young children this week, according to a Monday news release from the state Department of Health. Parents can expect to hear from their children’s pediatrician when they are ready to begin vaccinations.

In addition, the department will offer the vaccines at some walk-in and equity-focused clinics. As of Tuesday afternoon, an online list of walk-in clinics on the department’s website included upcoming events offering Moderna shots for children under age 6. Clinics for the Pfizer shots for under age 5 were coming soon.

Upper Valley clinics on the list include events from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, at Riverside Middle School, 13 Fairgrounds Road in Springfield, Vt., and at Woodstock High School, 100 Amsden Way, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. In addition, a clinic is scheduled on June 30 for Hartford High School, 37 Highland Ave., from 4 to 6 p.m. On July 1, a clinic is scheduled for Thetford Elementary School, 2689 Vermont Route 113, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

In Vermont, families enrolled in the USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, may also be able to get vaccinated at their local WIC office. Pharmacies in both states may also have the vaccine, but will only be able to vaccinate children ages 3 and older. A map available online at vaccines.nh.gov shows that the Rite Aid in Claremont has appointments available for children under age 5.

Vaccination locations can be found online at vaccines.gov/search, healthvermont.gov/covid-19/vaccine/getting-covid-19-vaccine#clinics or vaccines.nh.gov. People who are not Dartmouth Health patients can call the organization’s COVID-19 hotline at 603-650-1818, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday though Friday, and 8 a.m., to noon Saturdays.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.

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