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Wisconsin vaccinators preparing for rollout of COVID vaccine to youngest age group

Department of Health Services

Nearly a year and a half after a COVID vaccine was first made available to the most vulnerable population, there is now one for children as young as six months.

Last week, the FDA and CDC approved Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years old.

It’s a moment many families have been waiting for as cities and states have ditched other COVID control methods over the last year.

Those families will need to be patient a little while longer.

Wisconsin vaccinators need to review all guidelines, train staff, and receive the vaccines before they can actually dole out shots.

Dr. Smriti Khare and chief mental and behavioral health officer is a pediatrician for Children’s Wisconsin Hospital.

Speaking at a Department of Health Services media briefing Wednesday afternoon, she encouraged parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated.

“I often say as a pediatrician, children are supposed to be healthy. So any hospitalization or deaths that can be prevented should be prevented,” said Khare.

While children have not gotten sever COVID cases at the rate of older adults, it’s a misconception that they’re not affected at all.

There was a huge surge in children contracting the virus during the Omicron surge this past winter.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in Wisconsin, 15 children under 19 have died from COVID. More than 2,800 have been hospitalized.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for 6-month-olds to 4-year-olds. It requires three doses. The first two are given three weeks apart, the last at least three months later.

The Moderna vaccine is for 6-month-olds to 5-year-olds. It’s two doses given 28 days apart.

DHS has ordered an initial 48,000 doses of the vaccines, a mix of each kind, that will distributed to vaccinators.

Due to state statute, some pharmacies might not be offering the vaccine to part of this age group.

Pharmacists either need prescriptions or extra to vaccinate children 5-years and under.

“In the older age groups, the retail pharmacies really carried the weight of creating lots of appointments. In this age group it might be a little bit different where you do have to make sure that the pharmacies are providing vaccines to the younger children,” said Khare.

Providers are hoping to start vaccinating this latest age group later this week or early next week.

DHS recommends going to your child’s regular health provider or vaccine.gov to find an appointment.

DHS encourages families use this opportunity to get children caught up on all their vaccines. The COVID vaccines can be taken concurrently with other ones.

You should talk with your child’s health care provider with any questions you may have.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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