COVID-19 vaccines for kids: When and where to get them in Colorado

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an emergency use authorization to administer Pfizer’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents aged 12 to 15.

It’s the first COVID-19 vaccine approved for this demographic and it has shown 100% efficacy for that age group in clinical trials, according to said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, Colorado’s state epidemiologist.

“This is another important milestone in protecting Coloradans and ending the pandemic,” said Herlihy.

Rollout across Colorado could start as soon later this week. Here’s what you need to know to get your kids inoculated.

When can my child get vaccinated?

Coloradans aged 12 to 15 could be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by this weekend, Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will formally vote to approve or disapprove the vaccine for use in adolescents. The committee is expected to give the green light and once it does, the state Department of Public Health and Environment will begin the rollout to Colorado youth, Herlihy said.

Where can my child get vaccinated?

Children 12 to 15 will be able to receive the Pfizer vaccine anywhere it is available, Polis said. That includes drive-thru vaccination clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores, hospitals, doctors’ offices, community-based health clinics and more. Additionally, mobile vaccination clinics will continue to pop up around the state. See a list of locations here.

Most clinics no longer require an appointment, so patients can walk up to receive a shot, Polis said.

The state hopes to partner with schools like it does workplaces to host vaccine clinics, he added.

Polis cautioned parents to make sure the Pfizer vaccine is available wherever they decide to bring their children.

“While we think it’s very likely that the Moderna and the (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine will work on young people, they have not been approved,” Polis said.

Pfizer’s vaccine is also approved for kids ages 16 and up, while vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are approved for those 18 and up.

What if my child is under 12 years old?

Vaccine trials are currently underway for children younger than 12, but none have been approved yet, said Dr. Sean O’Leary, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus.

Pfizer hopes to have enough clinical data to submit its vaccine for kids ages 2 to 11 for an emergency use authorization by September, he added.

Will my child be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the next school year?

Many colleges, including the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, will require students to be vaccinated before attending in the fall. It’s unclear, however, if elementary, middle and high school students will be subject to such a mandate.

The Colorado Board of Health, part of the Department of Public Health and Environment, decides which vaccines are required for students attending school.

Currently, it mandates students in elementary through high school be vaccinated against hepatitis B, measles, tetanus, chicken pox and poliovirus, among other diseases. Requirements apply to both private and public institutions, as well as kids attending child care. The state allows certain medical and nonmedical exemptions for those vaccine requirements.

According to O’Leary, the board of health has historically evaluated diseases based on their propensity to spread within schools. That could make COVID-19 a prime candidate for a K-12 vaccination requirement, he said, but it’s unclear if that will happen by fall, if at all.

That COVID-19 vaccines remain under emergency use authorization complicates the timeline.

“The hope is that, one, we will have COVID down to pretty low numbers by getting really high vaccination rates in these coming months and also that a lot of the children who are eligible will choose to get vaccinated,” O’Leary said.

No one from the health department was immediately available for comment, but the agency’s website says it is not considering a statewide vaccine mandate.

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