COVID-19 shots are starting to get in the arms (and legs) of the littlest Minnesotans

After a long school year wait and the latest wave of omicron, parents can now bring their youngest children to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Mall of America.

Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the two-dose Moderna vaccine and the three-dose Pfizer vaccine for children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.

The decision couldn’t come soon enough for Deondre Ham, who said he and his wife recently went on a cruise and couldn’t bring their youngest, now 7-month-old Jaeden, because he couldn’t be vaccinated.

“The ability to have Pfizer vaccines at 6 months is great for us because we can move around without our child feeling unsafe,” Ham said.

When the shot is fired, a few tears flow first.

Deondre Ham holds 7-month-old Jaeden before the child’s first dose of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine at the Mall of America while brother Bryan helps.

Kerem Yücel | MPR News

After his shot, 4-year-old big brother Bryan chooses a sticker. He leans forward and whispers to Jaeden, “Everything will be fine.”

In keeping with the mega-mall, the government-run COVID-19 vaccination center is a huge space decorated with bright colors, balloons, and pictures of popular characters like SpongeBob SquarePants and Baby Yoda.

Sister Denise Buckner said the toys, brightly colored bandages, and stickers are there to make the process easier for children. According to her, children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years are usually a little quieter during the shoot.

Syringes can be seen

Syringes of COVID-19 doses for children ages 6 months to 4 years await use at the Mall of America vaccination center.

Kerem Yücel | MPR News

“I think they’re lap sitters, so just because you’re with your parents makes them a little softer,” Buckner said. “And then the older kids just know what’s going on. That just makes it a little difficult.”

While some parents said they were looking forward to going on vacation or sending their kids to camp without worrying so much about the virus, others are just happy that everyday life is getting easier.

Margaret Richter said it was stressful having her 4-year-old son Colin in preschool while he couldn’t be vaccinated.

A child receives a Covid-19 vaccination

Colin Richter, 4 years old, receives the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

Kerem Yücel | MPR News

“He actually contracted COVID-19 from his preschool,” Richter said. “That was in January. And then we all got it. So yeah, I feel like we’ve waited a long time. And we are very happy that everyone is now vaccinated.”

After Colin got his shot, he grabbed three stickers and went with his parents to get some cotton candy.

The Mall of America Vaccine Clinic is open Wednesday through Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Appointments are required and can be arranged online.

In addition, the state health department says vaccine doses for children in this age group are being made available to some providers, minute clinics, and pharmacies across the state.

stickers and patches

Stickers and plasters for children after vaccinations.

Kerem Yücel | MPR News

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