COVID

Here’s when COVID-19 vaccine appointments will be available in Mass. for kids under 5

“We know parents and families have been waiting for this."

Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
Josie MacGlashing, 7, (center) held hands with her brother Ewan, 3, as pharmacist Mike Kippenberger of VaxinateRx administered a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for children age 5-11 from during a vaccination clinic at A. W. Coolidge Middle School in Reading in November. Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
COVID Vaccines

Some of Massachusetts’ youngest residents will soon be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved vaccines for children ages 6 months through 5 years old on Saturday.

“We know parents and families have been waiting for this, and we are pleased to have this last age group approved for the COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Estevan Garcia, a pediatrician and chief medical officer for the state’s Department of Public Health, said in a statement. “The vaccine for this age group has been rigorously tested and we encourage parents to add this vaccine to the list of critical vaccinations their children should receive. We urge parents to reach out to their child’s health care provider with any questions they may have.”

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Beginning Tuesday, appointments for children from six months through age 4 will be available for booking, according to the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services. The Baker Administration anticipates there will be more than 400 locations where the youngest age group can get vaccinated in the coming weeks, including at places such as pediatricians’ offices, community health centers, and some pharmacies, among others.

Officials recommend parents who prefer to have their children vaccinated by their primary care provider to call their doctor’s office directly. Otherwise, available appointments can be found using the state’s VaxFinder tool or through the COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Line by calling 2-1-1.

For the 6-month through 4-year-old age group, the Pfizer vaccine is a regimen of three pediatric doses, while the Moderna vaccine is two pediatric doses.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, told “Good Morning America” on Monday the data for both vaccines “are quite compellingly clear.”

“What I say to parents is we’re lucky to have two choices,” Jha said. “They’re both exceedingly safe, they’re both effective. Either one is fine. There (are) some nuanced, subtle differences — you can talk to your family physician or pediatrician about them. But we’ve got two good choices here.”

Jha also recommended that parents who want to vaccinate their children should do so sooner rather than later, or say, sooner than the start of the school year in September.

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“I would say to do it now because, remember, it take a little while to get both doses or all three doses, depending on which one you take, in and it takes a little while to build up immunity,” Jha said. “So if you’re thinking about getting your child fully protected, maximally protected before the fall, starting sooner rather than later is a good idea.”

In November, the CDC gave the green light for vaccines for children ages 5 and up. For children between 5 and 11, there is a two-dose Pfizer vaccine — a more potent set of doses than the three pediatric doses for the Pfizer vaccine recommended for children under 5 years old.

Some parents with children just on the cusp of turning 5 are now wondering: should I just wait to vaccinate?

Jha said he gets the question often.

“I personally think you should go ahead and get your child vaccinated,” Jha said. “If they’re right on that cusp, you maybe want to talk to your pediatrician or your family physician. But really the bottom line is we’ve got safe, effective vaccines for four and five year olds, so it probably doesn’t matter hugely.”

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