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COVID-19 vaccines are now available in Idaho for kids under 5. Here’s how to get one

Idaho Statesman logo Idaho Statesman 6/23/2022 Becca Savransky, Nicole Blanchard, The Idaho Statesman
Logan Gates, 8, wasn’t bothered at all as Anne Thomas administered a child dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, at Primary Health Medical Group Pediatrics in Meridian. © Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Idaho Statesman/TNS Logan Gates, 8, wasn’t bothered at all as Anne Thomas administered a child dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, at Primary Health Medical Group Pediatrics in Meridian.

COVID-19 vaccines are now available in Idaho for kids ages 6 months and older.

The vaccines will be offered at multiple Primary Health clinics across the Treasure Valley. Families can make an appointment online or walk into clinics to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for their children, Primary Health said in a news release.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s online vaccine locator tool showed doses available at AFC Urgent care locations in Garden City, Meridian and Nampa, as well.

“It’s exciting that we are finally able to provide COVID-19 vaccines to younger children in our community,” Dan Reed, family physician and CEO of Primary Health, said in the release. “With this safe and effective vaccine, these children will be one step closer to regaining normalcy in their lives.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week authorized emergency use for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months and older. The CDC recommended the shot for everyone ages 6 months and older.

The vaccines for children ages 6 months and older come more than six months after Idaho began offering vaccines for kids ages 5-11. Just 17% of Idaho kids ages 5-11 have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare data showed as of Wednesday.

In a news conference Wednesday, Dr. Laura McGeorge, the primary care medical director for St. Luke’s Health System, said St. Luke’s should begin rolling out the newly approved vaccines in about two weeks. She encouraged parents to talk with their child’s doctor about the best vaccine option for them.

Full vaccination against COVID-19 varies

McGeorge said the Pfizer vaccine is three doses that take about 10 weeks to complete. The Moderna vaccine is two doses administered about a month apart.

The children’s doses are just a fraction of the adult doses, with Pfizer’s one-tenth of the adult dose and Moderna’s one-quarter of its adult dose, McGeorge said. She added that, while the prospect of another vaccination may be unpleasant for needle-averse kids, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

“The pros of getting vaccinated is really reducing the likelihood of a very serious infection, which can be hospitalization and just incredibly rare mortality,” she said. “Also the vaccines still reduce minor infections, which means less missing school, no need to cancel that upcoming vacation with Grandma, parents don’t need to miss work because the kid is home sick with COVID. So there are just life’s inconveniences also that can be reduced by getting vaccinated.”

McGeorge emphasized that the vaccines are safe and effective.

Dr. Kenny Bramwell, medical director for St. Luke’s Children’s System, said during the news conference that in recent months the hospital has seen the number of pediatric COVID-19 patients fall since the Omicron variant surge at the start of the year.

“January was the highest number of pediatric patients that we had admitted to the Children’s Hospital for COVID in the entire pandemic,” Bramwell said. “We had 55 patients admitted during the month of January, and through much of the rest of the pandemic, the average has been five or six patients per month — so almost 10 times as many as normal.”

Idaho counties at high risk of transmission

COVID-19 cases have been rising in the region over the past several weeks. The CDC recently moved Ada, Elmore, Valley and Lewis counties into the high community risk category, meaning masks are now recommended indoors.

Reed said the availability of vaccines for younger children will give some kids the chance to experience the “typical joys of childhood for the first time.”

“We recognize how stressful the past more than 2 years have been for caregivers of the youngest children, many of whom have been unable to wear a face mask and may be more vulnerable to illness,” Reed said in the news release. “We hope this vaccine brings some peace of mind to those families.”

©2022 The Idaho Statesman. Visit idahostatesman.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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