COVID-19 vaccinations for young children begin this week

A child receives a vaccine.
An 8-year-old child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn., on Tuesday.
Joseph Prezioso | AFP via Getty Images

Gov. Tim Walz and state public health leaders are briefing reporters on the state’s plan to vaccinate younger Minnesotans. Watch below.

By the end of the week, Minnesota kids will have access to COVID-19 vaccines, as the state starts rolling out doses of the Pfizer shots tailor-made for younger children.

“Getting our children vaccinated will help our kids be kids again,” said Gov. Tim Walz in a news release announcing the next phase of the state’s vaccination campaign. “Now that the vaccine is approved for kids ages 5-11, Minnesota is ready to administer these shots quickly, efficiently, and equitably. I encourage families to make a plan to get their child vaccinated and help keep them safe.”

State officials say that more than 1,000 vaccine providers will be involved in the rollout, and there will be about 255,000 doses in the state by this weekend — enough to vaccinate about half the children in this age group. 

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The state’s latest vaccine rollout comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its final approval for the Pfizer shots to be given to this age group.

The shots are arriving at a critical time during the pandemic, when many new cases are cropping up among school-age children.

Meanwhile, the state has launched a new webpage aimed at educating parents about the benefits of having their children vaccinated — and with information on how to find vaccines.

State and school officials are making the case that vaccines will allow kids to get back to school and activities safely — and, in some cases, without the hassle of long quarantines if they are exposed.

Health experts also point out that some children do get very sick — and die — from the virus. COVID-19 has also caused a rare and potentially life-threatening inflammatory syndrome in some children. Some children get long-COVID syndrome after contracting the virus. 

Meanwhile, vaccinating children limits transmission of the virus. Public health experts say that could blunt opportunities for the virus to develop more dangerous mutations. 

“We want parents to feel confident that the vaccine is safe and will help protect their children from the severe effects of COVID-19,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “Having questions is normal. Reach out to your family’s health care provider or seek out information from trusted sources so you are ready to get your child vaccinated when they are eligible.”

Shots will be available at pharmacies and medical clinics, and many locations are already scheduling appointments.

In an effort to make vaccines accessible to all kids, state officials say they will also partner with schools to host on-site vaccination clinics.