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The wait for some West Michigan parents is over: a COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 6 months old will be available in Ottawa County starting Wednesday and Allegan County starting Thursday.
Both county health departments say they will carry the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, which were authorized and recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week.
Most children who get the Moderna version will need a second dose four weeks after their first shot to maximize the vaccine’s effectiveness. Immunocompromised children are encouraged to get a third dose four weeks after the second dose.
Pfizer’s vaccine for babies and children under age five comes in three doses. Health officials say recipients should wait three weeks between their first and second shot and eight weeks between the second and third dose.
Both vaccines proved to be safe and effective in curbing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 in children who participated in clinical trials, according to the FDA. The short-term side effects were mostly mild and similar to what older children adults experienced, health officials say. The most common side effects were fatigue and a sore arm.
“As with other routine vaccinations for children, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have undergone a thorough testing and review process to ensure they are safe and effective for young children. We understand that parents still may have questions, and we respect the rights of parents to choose what medical measures are right for their child,” Ottawa County Administrative Health Officer Lisa Stefanovsky stated in a news release. “Although severe illness, hospitalization and death are rare among children, there is still a risk from COVID-19. We encourage parents to talk with their trusted health care provider about what is best for their children.”
While children and teens are typically at lower risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, the disease has become one of the top 10 causes of pediatric death. COVID-19 led to the deaths of at least 485 babies and children from birth to 4 years old since the pandemic began, CDC statistics show.
Parents interested in getting the new COVID-19 vaccine for young children can search for clinics and schedule appointments within Ottawa County at vaccinatewestmi.com or by calling 616.396.5266.
The Allegan County Health Department will offer COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 6 months through 5 years old by appointment only.