COVID vaccines for kids

A young boy receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday at Texas Children’s Hospital, which is among the Houston-area medical facilities administering vaccine doses to children as young as 6 months old. (Photo from Texas Children’s Hospital Twitter account)

Area medical providers and pharmacies shifted into high gear Tuesday to provide appointments and COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months old after emergency authorization last week from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Now youngsters 6 months to 17 years old are eligible to receive either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines at participating pharmacies, doctor’s offices and clinics and at the four vaccination sites operated by the Houston Health Department.

The Pfizer vaccine for ages 6 months to 4 years is administered in three doses, with the first two given three weeks apart and the final dose eight weeks after the second shot. It is one-tenth as strong as the adult Pfizer vaccine, and the CDC emphasized the necessity for all three doses for full protection.

The Moderna version for young children is a quarter of the strength of the adult version and is administered in two doses, one month apart.

CVS confirmed it is offering immediate appointments online at cvs.com through its MinuteClinics, and Walgreens was scheduling youngsters in its pharmacies containing Healthcare Clinics at walgreens.com.

Neither insurance nor proof of residency is required to receive free vaccines at the four Houston Health Department sites, including La Nueva Casa de Amigos Health Center, 1809 N. Main St. The department said it also will offer vaccines at multi-service centers on a rotating schedule. For more information on locations and schedules, call 832-393-4220 or visit www.houstonhealth.org

Children’s Memorial Hermann Pediatrics clinics began administering the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday to children 6 months to 4 years old who are already established patients, according to spokesperson George Kovacik. Appointments are available through the offices of Children’s Memorial Hermann pediatricians. Find more information at https://memorialhermann.org/services/specialties/childrens.

The clinics also offer Pfizer booster shots to children and young adults ages 5-17 who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least five months ago. 

Pediatric patients of Texas Children’s Hospital and its clinics may receive either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, with scheduling available online at https://www.texaschildrens.org/covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccination

The hospital vaccinated youngsters from two families with health issues before TV cameras Tuesday morning. Both sets of parents told reporters that having an immuno-compromised child ineligible for a vaccine until now had continued to restrict their children’s and family’s lives, even as restrictions were lifted for others.

Anna Farrow, whose 10-month-old daughter, Hope, and 3-year-old son, George, were vaccinated, told KPRC-TV the family had felt “left behind” with George born prematurely and considered at higher risk. She called the vaccinations “sort of the beginning of a regular childhood.” 

With the FDA approval last week, followed by the CDC review and approval June 18 and a recommendation that day from the American Academy of Pediatrics, providers still had to wait past the Juneteenth federal holiday Monday. But the federal government promised to deliver 10 million of the child-strength doses quickly to meet the demand, with 20 million youngsters in the age group nationwide.

According to CDC figures, more than 2 million children ages 6 months to 4 years have been infected with COVID-19, with about 20,000 youngsters hospitalized and about 200 deaths.

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