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Where to find COVID shots for kids under 5 in Michigan

A little girl gets a vaccine.
Kamonrat - stock.adobe.com
Kids under the age of 5 will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan as early as next week.

Update: Wednesday, June 22, 7 p.m.

If you've been trying to get your kid under five years old a COVID-19 vaccine appointment and can't find one near you, you're not alone. But experts say that should change in the next several days as more supplies come in.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 103,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccinations for kids between six months and five years old have been delivered to Michigan health systems, pediatric practices, local public health departments, pharmacies, and other locations, according to a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson. Another 6,500 doses are in transit, and at least 200 doses have actually been administered.

While the FDA gave emergency authorization for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on Friday, healthcare providers then had to wait for the CDC to update their guidance for clinicians over the weekend. Then the earliest deliveries were available was Monday, a federal holiday.

But now more doses are starting to arrive, said Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, public information officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department. They’re opening appointments Thursday.

“We have a little bit of an advantage, I think, than some other providers in that we're used to vaccinating babies and littles, so we don't have a training curve necessarily,” she said.

“But we did have a little bit of a delay in the shipment. So the only thing that stopped us from starting right away was getting both types of vaccine in place and ready to go," said Ringler-Cerniglia. "We just received our second [vaccine] formulation today. So we have now both Moderna and Pfizer available for our littles.”

The Ingham County Health Department said it will have appointments for this age group starting Tuesday, June 28.

Michigan pharmacies initially pre-ordered nearly 40,000 doses for kids under five, according to state numbers, and those like Lake Odessa Pharmacy are already taking walk-ins.

But they, like many other pharmacies, can only vaccinate kids three and older due to federal regulations. That’s because kids under the age of three are more complicated to vaccinate: they have to get their shots in a specific thigh muscle, not the shoulder, and keeping them safely in that position requires additional training and staff. (One exception is CVS MinuteClinics, which can vaccinate children 18 months and older, because their vaccinations are performed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.)

Ringler-Cerniglia said they’re expecting a rush of people seeking the vaccine for the next few weeks, followed by a gradual slow down.

“So we'll get a lot of the folks that have been ready and waiting for these vaccines for their younger kids, and we'll be vaccinating them right away. And then, of course, we know that there's going to be folks that are going to want a little bit more time. Maybe they have questions that they want to get answered. They want to see how it goes.”

But she’s hopeful that soon, every parent who wants vaccine does for kids in this age group will be able to get them.

Original post: Monday, June 20, 7 a.m.

This is a moment hundreds of thousands of Michigan parents have been waiting for: starting this week, kids under the age of five are able to get their COVID-19 vaccines.

"We now have vaccines from two different manufacturers, licensed for use for children as young as six months of age," said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, a pediatrician and Henry Ford Health's director of infection prevention and control.

"While the youngest children typically have not been coming into the hospital or been seriously ill, they're really good at sharing their germs with family members. We know kids go to preschool, they share their germs. They bring it home to parents and grandparents," Cunningham said. "This is another tool to help us as we prepare for future variants and future surges... so I do think there's some room for optimism here."

Some 500,000 Michigan kids under the age of five will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, possibly as early as June 20. That’s the earliest the CDC is expected to deliver some 40,000 preordered doses to pharmacies in the state, plus another 65,600 to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, according to an MDHHS spokesperson.

“June 20 is the earliest the vaccine will be arriving to provider offices, but they will need to have time to train staff on this new vaccine and begin setting up appointments and/or walk-ins, so it may be a few days before providers have information loaded intovaccine finder and are ready to begin vaccinating,” said Chelsea Wuth, an MDHHS public information officer.

At Henry Ford Health, that should mean shots should be getting into (very small) arms within a week, according to Cunningham. director of infection control and prevention. He's also hopeful parents will use this as an opportunity to get their kids caught up on any other routine childhood vaccines they may have missed during the pandemic.

"People can get this vaccine along with their other scheduled vaccines," he said. "...One of the things that happened during the pandemic is the routine childhood vaccines were not being kept up to date. So there's a lot of kids who are susceptible to multiple diseases. In the past ten years in this country, we have seen outbreaks of measles, mumps, other vaccine preventable viruses. So I would encourage parents, get your kids all the vaccines that are recommended."

On Friday, the FDA issued emergency authorizationfor Pfizer and Moderna’s immunizations for children six months and older. (Previously, COVID vaccines had only been approved for those five and older.) The Moderna vaccine is “administered as a primary series of two doses, one month apart,” with a third dose available at least a month after the second dose for kids who are immunocompromised, according to the FDA.

Pfizer’s is administered as “a primary series of three doses in which the initial two doses are administered three weeks apart followed by a third dose administered at least eight weeks after the second dose” for children.

The announcement was a relief to pediatricians and many parents. “For nearly a year and half now, a lot of families with very young children have been waiting anxiously for this day to come, so it’s a huge relief to finally be able to say almost every American can now receive the critical protection against COVID-19 that these vaccines offer,” said Dr. Thomas Veverka, president of the Michigan State Medical Society, in a statement Friday.

“The FDA has properly studied the safety and efficacy of these vaccines in this age cohort and the results are clear: the benefits of the vaccine greatly outweigh any risks," he said. "The vaccine is safe, effective, and the best way to keep our youngest children healthy and safe. We encourage parents everywhere to act to get their children vaccinated and protected as soon as possible.”

Parents looking to find an appointment or walk-in availability near them can go to Vaccines.gov.

Updated: June 22, 2022 at 6:51 PM EDT
This story was updated on Wednesday, June 22nd with new information from providers and an updated count from MDHHS about the number of children under five the state. Previously, MDHHS said some 409,000 children would be eligible. On Wednesday, a spokesperson said there are "more than 500,000" children who are eligible.
Updated: June 20, 2022 at 3:54 PM EDT
This story was updated Monday, June 20 2022 at 4 pm.
Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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