Minnesota to begin vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds following CDC recommendation

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State launches new webpage to help guide parents

Following an extensive clinical trial and final recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, Governor Tim Walz announced on Wednesday that Minnesota will begin vaccinating children this week.

To aid families, the state has launched a new webpage to help parents and guardians find 5- to 11-year-old children a vaccine and answer questions they may have about it.

Minnesota providers have ordered as many doses as possible from the federal government. Doses will arrive in waves this week, with most providers receiving their vaccines by this weekend.

There are over 500,000 children across Minnesota that are now eligible for the vaccine. Ninety-four percent of Minnesota’s population is now eligible to be vaccinated.

“Getting our children vaccinated will help our kids be kids again,” said Governor Walz. “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.”

“I’ve experienced a lot of extreme feelings over the course of this pandemic, but nothing has compared to when my daughter tested positive for COVID,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “While we are so fortunate she is okay, I don’t want any other families to have to go through that experience.

“My most important job as a mom is to keep my child safe—I can’t wait to get her vaccinated so she’s protected. I’m making a plan to get my daughter vaccinated, and I encourage all Minnesota families to do the same,” said Flanagan.

The webpage, mn.gov/vaxforkids, was created to be a resource for families to learn about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens, understand what to expect when their child gets vaccinated, and why it is important to do so. The site will also help parents find the right vaccination experience and location for their child.

“Being able to vaccinate children ages 5 and up is an exciting step forward in our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We want parents to feel confident that the vaccine is safe and will help protect their children from the severe effects of COVID-19. 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.”

“As we continue to prioritize safe in-person learning, I am so grateful that even more Minnesota students are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. 

“Vaccination of students and staff is the fastest way for our students to get back to focusing on school and enjoying the extracurricular activities that were canceled during the pandemic,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “School is the place where childhood happens and we want that place to be as happy and healthy as possible. We encourage parents to follow the advice of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other public health experts and choose to have their school-age children vaccinated.”

In addition to the webpage, two new videos were created featuring Minnesota pediatricians sharing information about the COVID-19 vaccine for children and why it is important to get kids vaccinated:

“The Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP), representing nearly 1,000 pediatricians around the state, is excited to join with the Governor and administration in standing ready to vaccinate and protect children ages 5 years and older against COVID-19,” said Dr. Sheldon Berkowitz, president of MNAAP.

 “Parents and guardians are encouraged to get their children over 5 vaccinated as soon as possible—visiting their pediatrician, primary clinic, or one of the many other locations and opportunities that feels most comfortable and accessible,” said Berkowitz. “As Minnesotans can learn in the new videos helping to reach out and educate families, pediatricians and your trusted health providers are available to answer any questions you may have about the COVID-19 vaccine for kids.”

“This is a milestone moment in the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Marc Gorelick, president, and CEO of Children’s Minnesota. “As the largest pediatric provider in the state, Children’s Minnesota has seen first-hand the pandemic’s direct and indirect effect on kids. Not only can kids get seriously sick enough to require ICU care, but they’ve also had to struggle through distance learning, time away from friends, and even isolation from grandparents. We encourage families to get their eligible children vaccinated as soon as they can at the vaccination site nearest to them. Each shot brings us one step closer to getting out of this pandemic.”

Children are not immune from the severe effects of COVID-19, and common underlying conditions like asthma and obesity can put kids at an even greater risk of severe illness. From July 1 to October 26, there were more than 45,200 pediatric cases and more than 300 child hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in Minnesota. Serious cases can even occur in healthy children. Roughly 25% of COVID-19 pediatric deaths nationally have occurred in healthy children. 

COVID-19 can also have long-term consequences. Thousands of children have been diagnosed with COVID-19-linked multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, in the U.S., with about 100 cases in Minnesota. Some of these children need ICU-level care. 

In response to community feedback and to meet families where they are, the Walz-Flanagan Administration has mobilized a diverse network of more than 1,100 providers to administer COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 5-11. More than 530 pediatric and family medicine clinics, primary care providers, federally qualified health centers, local public health agencies, tribal health agencies, and Indian Health Service locations have said they are preparing to vaccinate Minnesota children. 

Additionally, over 600 pharmacies are preparing to provide COVID-19 vaccine to children under the age of 12 in some or all their locations, based on their supply from the federal government.  

To ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine and expand access to more children and families, the Walz-Flanagan Administration is partnering with school districts and charter schools to host vaccination clinics in school buildings for children and families. 

In a recent survey of Minnesota school districts and charter schools, 80% of respondents have indicated interest in hosting vaccination clinics. This week the Administration is partnering with three districts and schools to host clinics, and 15more school-based vaccination clinics in high-need areas are planned around Minnesota over the next three weeks with more clinics in the works. 

Minnesota’s successful Community Vaccination Program location at the Mall of America has tripled its capacity to provide up to 1,500 shots per day to 5- to 11-year-olds. MDH’s Covid-19 Community Coordinators—trusted community partners—will host clinics offering not only vaccines to 5- to 11-year-olds but shots for the whole family.  

How families can find a shot for their child:

  • Visit mn.gov/vaxforkids to find clinic locations near you.
  • Check with their pediatrician, family medicine clinic, or pharmacy about appointments
  • Watch for vaccination clinics being offered at schools or other community locations around Minnesota.

How Minnesotans can get a COVID-19 test: 

Information provided by the Office of Gov. Tim Walz.