Carter Giglio, 8, joined by service dog Barney of Hero Dogs

Carter Giglio, 8, joined by service dog Barney of Hero Dogs, shows off the bandaid over his injection site after being vaccinated Wednesday at Children’s National Hospital in Washington.

Mid-Missouri parents can now begin to schedule vaccines for their 5- to 11-year-olds at pharmacies and clinics across Boone County with appointments as soon as Saturday.

This comes after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky expanded vaccine recommendations to about 28 million children in this age group nationwide Tuesday night and the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services amended its administrative order to approve the vaccine statewide Wednesday afternoon.

Most vaccine providers, including clinics, independent practitioners and health systems, now have full clearance operating under either state or federal order. Only a few groups, mainly county vaccine clinics, await a final level of approval from the Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services medical director Ashley Millham. That order can be expected within a day or two, department spokesperson Sara Humm said.

When and where can parents go for vaccines right now?

For parents who are looking to schedule appointments as quickly as possible, national pharmacies are some of the first providers to be scheduling appointments.

Walgreens and CVS are scheduling online with appointments beginning Saturday and Sunday respectively. Hy-Vee has placed an order but is waiting until vaccine shipments arrive to schedule appointments, according to HyVee spokesperson Christina Gayman.

Other providers including local health systems, independent pediatricians and schools are still finalizing plans, and/or awaiting vaccine shipments.

MU Health Care announced that it will host two pediatric vaccination events next week, but the specific times and locations have not been released. More details about the events and scheduling appointments are expected in the coming days, spokesperson Eric Maze said.

Will my child’s school offer vaccines?

Vaccine clinics in schools vary from district to district.

Columbia Public Schools is following the directive of the county health department, and in-school clinics will begin when there are vaccines available, district spokesperson Michelle Baumstark told the Missourian last week.

Other districts and schools including Southern Boone and Columbia Independent also confirmed they will be partnering with the county.

Clinics at these locations await the county administrative order, the shipment of the county’s first 600 vaccines for the 5 to 11 age group and the wrap-up of current flu shot clinics, Humm said. The COVID-19 vaccine school clinics are expected to begin Nov. 15.

Our Lady of Lourdes also plans to host two vaccine clinics open to any students or community members above the age of 5, but they will partner with the state health department, Principal Elaine Hassemer said.

The Sturgeon School District does not plan to host any vaccination clinics at this time, Superintendent Melia Franklin said.

Centralia, Hallsville and Harrisburg school districts had not returned calls about vaccine clinics as of Wednesday afternoon.

Will my child’s doctor offer the vaccine?

Pediatrician offices are in a waiting game.

Tiger Pediatrics posted on Facebook that it anticipated vaccine availability “as soon as mid-November.” The office will contact patients through email and text messages about scheduling appointments when vaccines are available.

CoMo Cubs Pediatrics said it would have a better idea of vaccine availability next week. The office will post any updates on its Facebook page.

What makes the child vaccines different?

The biggest difference between the vaccines is dose size, with 10 micrograms for 5- to 11-year-olds and 30 micrograms for all people 12 and older.

The difference in dosage is a matter of a “primed” and “robust” immune system, said Laura Morris, MU Health Care COVID-19 vaccine co-chair and a family physician.

“Over time, and with vaccine development, we’ve learned that we can actually expose kids to a much smaller amount of an antigen — that’s the name for the proteins that are in vaccines — and their immune system will just see that and take off and create a great response,” she said. “But in older adults, especially adults that are over 65, they actually may not respond as well as even younger adults to the same exposure.”

Because of the difference in dosage, the vaccine vials are different colors, purple for 12 and older and orange for 5 to 11. This serves as an extra precaution to help avoid distribution of the wrong vaccine.

The needle and syringe size will also be adjusted to fit younger and smaller children.

Do children need a second dose?

In the same fashion as the Pfizer vaccine for people 12 and older, the 5- to 11-year-old vaccine is recommended in two doses with three weeks in between.

What side effects are expected in children?

Typical vaccine side effects for adults, like fatigue, arm soreness and a fever, may occur. Those effects are anticipated to occur less in children, and when they do, the intensity is anticipated to be lower.

“Because of the reduced dose for kids this age, they actually reported fewer side effects and in fact have a lower incidence of fever compared to say adolescents and adults,” Morris said.

The other potential side effects to watch closely are allergic reactions and the heart condition myocarditis, which are both rare.

“Kids who have a bad allergic reaction would be kids who we will watch closely, but that actually turns out to be super uncommon,” she said. “Kids who have a history of Myocarditis would be the only ones that we would suggest that they talk to a doctor about whether they should get this vaccine.”

Zero cases of myocarditis were observed in the latest studies, and the few cases of myocarditis that have been observed, mostly in young men, didn’t appear until millions of doses of vaccine had been given in order to accumulate a few hundred cases of myocarditis.

“That is something we’re going to have to watch really closely for, but hopefully the lower dose given to kids will mean that there will be fewer side effects and fewer cases of anything unusual that will pop up,” she added. “It is important to emphasize that even if the lower dose of vaccine does end up with some myocarditis cases in response, that it is a temporary condition and resolves without long-lasting effects.”

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • K-12 Education reporter, studying investigative journalism and sociology. Reach me at jessicablakereports@gmail.com, on Twitter @JessicaEBlake or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

  • Education reporter, fall 2021 Studying magazine writing and editing Reach me at joziecrouch@mail.missouri.edu

  • K-12 Education reporter, studying international journalism. Reach me at sofizeman@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

  • Managing editor for digital and director of community outreach for the Columbia Missourian and associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism

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