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Health officials begin COVID vaccine rollout for youngest Vermonters

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:04 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The CDC is now recommending the COVID vaccine for children as young as six months old. But as COVID cases and concerns about the pandemic wane in our region, will these shots be in high demand?

The first doses of the COVID vaccine for young children arrived in Vermont Monday afternoon. It will largely be available in pediatrician offices around the state and walk-in clinics. Moderna and Pfizer are both offering vaccines that should be widely available throughout the state by the end of June.

“The best vaccine is always the one you can get and that’s been true since the get-go -- Pfizer, Moderna -- they are both safe, they’re both effective, and quite honestly they are going to be widely available throughout the state,” said the Department of Health’s Monica Ogelby.

Shots have been available for kids aged 5 to 11 since last fall, when Vermont was in the midst of a surge of COVID cases. Even so, only 56% of that age group has gotten all recommended doses. Officials say that this new age group will likely have a lower uptake. That’s in part because very young kids don’t leave home much, more families have been exposed to the virus, and there is general fatigue over everything COVID.

“Parents’ primary role and responsibility is to keep their kids safe and every day they make decisions to keep their kids safe. So, it’s definitely best to have these conversations with your pediatric care provider. Don’t rely on Google, don’t rely on the internet. Talk to a doctor that you trust and ask your questions and they’ll be able to help,” Ogelby said.

Parents we spoke to Monday were generally excited to get their youngest children vaccinated. “We’ve been worried about him being in daycare and not being vaccinated and he’s not old enough to understand to not wear a mask yet. And we are really happy to hear that now that he can have his vaccination. We plan on doing that,” said Jaime Walsh of Ferrisburgh.

Other parents with older kids say that getting them vaccinated was so important for peace of mind. That Includes the Rutter family, who were on their way for boosters. “My husband and I got vaccinated as soon as we could. And pretty much as soon as we could sign our kids up, we got them vaccinated because we wanted them to be protected and to protect people who couldn’t be vaccinated,” said Amanda Rutter of Essex Junction.

The state has scheduled a number of walk-in clinics. Those who may have difficulty accessing a primary care provider for their children are encouraged to call 211 or the health department for assistance.

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