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What to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for children age 5-11

Trials have shown that the vaccine is 90% effective for the age group.

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shows 90.7% efficacy in trial in children
Pfizer/BioNTech's new pediatric COVID-19 vaccine vials are seen in this undated handout photo. fizer/Handout via REUTERS
VIA REUTERS
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Parents and guardians of children age 5-11 can now schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments for them, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's emergency-use approval of the Pfizer vaccine for the age group Tuesday.

Trials have shown that the vaccine is 90% effective for the age group, an effectiveness rate that Essentia Health Immunization Program Manager Kelsey Nefzger said is higher than any other vaccine in history. Still, Nefzger said having concerns or questions before choosing to vaccinate a child against COVID-19 is normal.

"If parents are really questioning or having concerns about the vaccine, we really strongly recommend that they reach out to their health care provider, their pediatrician or family medicine doctor to really have a conversation about what's best for them and their children." Nefzger said.

The same side effects from COVID-19 vaccines, like fatigue, fever and a sore arm, are to be expected in the 5-11 age group, Nefzger said, though studies show that that age group seems to have fewer side effects than any other so far.

Children 5-11 get a lower dose of 10 micrograms, while everyone else receives a dose of 30 micrograms.

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While COVID-19 hasn't affected children as much as the adult population, Nefzger said that as the virus has mutated, new strains continue to make more young patients ill. Children suffer from the long-term effects that adults do, like memory and cognitive issues and impaired senses of smell and taste.

The longer people wait to get vaccinated, the more the virus is going to spread, mutate and get worse, Nefzger said.

Where children can get the vaccine

In addition to attending a Minnesota Department of Health vaccine clinic at the child's school, health care providers and local public health departments are offering vaccine opportunities for children.

Essentia Health started vaccinating children who were in for regular doctor's appointments on Wednesday, Nefzgar said. Parents who want to schedule an appointment just for a vaccine can start scheduling for next week.

To make a vaccine appointment for a child at an Essentia Heath location call 833-494-0836 or schedule an appointment through the MyChart patient portal.

St. Luke's is now scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments for kids age 5-11. Appointments are available starting Monday at the system's vaccine clinic in Duluth. Call 218-249-4200 to schedule an appointment or visit the myCare patient portal at slhduluth.com/myCare .

St. Louis County Public Health will hold a few vaccine clinics for children this month:

  • First doses will be offered from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 13 and 20 and second doses will be offered from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 4 and 11 at First United Methodist Church, 230 E. Skyline Parkway, Duluth.
  • First doses will be offered from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 13 and 20 and second doses will be offered Dec. 4 and 11 at the Eveleth Auditorium, 421 Jackson St., Eveleth.

The county will also offer the Pfizer vaccines to children at all of its other vaccine clinics beginning the week of Nov. 15, according to a news release from the county.

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