Children as young as 6 months old in Yakima County and across the country can now receive the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Some pharmacies in Yakima, Sunnyside and Wapato already stock the pediatric vaccines, although it may take a few weeks before doses are widely available.
Chris Reed, chief operations officer at community health in central Washington, said his clinics may not receive vaccine allocations until early July.
“We’ve just started receiving notifications that we’re getting our shipments of the vaccines,” Reed said. “We do not currently have the allocation ordered, but we expect to be able to start administering the vaccine to the children in early July.”
For parents who want to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible, a handful of clinics and pharmacies such as Horizon Pharmacy in Wapato, Ninth Avenue Rite Aid in Yakima, and Rite Aid in Sunnyside now have doses available for young children. For other organizations with availability, see the Yakima Health District website.
The Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both approved Moderna and Pfizer shots for children ages 6 months to 4 years earlier this month and found them to be safe and effective. Vaccines were approved for teenagers and school-age children last year.
A scientific working group assembled by governors in Washington, California, Nevada and Oregon reviewed and confirmed the federal decisions over the past weekend. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association also recommend vaccinating younger children.
Pfizer has a three shot series and Moderna has two shots for smaller kids.
Stephanie Macias, chief quality officer at CHCW, said one of the difficulties in rolling out the vaccine will be estimating demand.
Macias encouraged parents who have doubts about the vaccine or simply want more information to speak to their children’s medical providers.
“Parents who bring their babies to get this vaccine are going to be nervous, they’re going to be scared, they’re going to have questions,” she said. “It was important for us to ensure that the process we integrated gives these parents the opportunity to have these conversations directly with their provider.”
One of those providers, Meghan Colleran, a nurse at Yakima Pediatrics, said a big question she gets from parents is whether their children should be vaccinated if they already have COVID.
“Yes, I recommend children get the COVID-19 vaccine even if they already have COVID,” Colleran said. “As with adults, COVID gives you temporary immunity, but eventually you will want to get vaccinated.”
People also ask when a vaccine is due if a child has recently had COVID-19, Colleran said.
“Initially with the vaccine, we were told to wait 6 months before getting vaccinated (if the person had COVID),” she said. “Now we know that if the case was mild, children can be vaccinated as long as they are no longer showing symptoms.”
To learn more about the pediatric COVID-19 vaccines, visit the FDA’s website or speak to your child’s healthcare provider.