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Vaccines arriving for kids 5 and younger

A worker oversees production of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than 5. Pfizer photo
Jackson County Public Health scheduling shots

Jackson County Public Health is offering advice to parents and caregivers now that COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for children ages 6 months to 5 years old.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the youngest age group yet will begin arriving throughout Oregon this week and in coming weeks. Not every COVID-19 vaccine provider will be offering the new vaccines, and not all who plan to offer the vaccines will receive them at the same time, public health officials said.

Parents and caregivers should reach out to their primary care provider, pediatrician, pharmacy or public health department to see if they will be providing the vaccine and whether they’re ready to start giving shots, public health officials said.

On Tuesday, Jackson County Public Health started scheduling appointments for children ages 6 months to 5 years. The public health department has both the Moderna and Pfizer shots. Call 541-774-8209 to schedule an appointment.

Other ways to get information about available vaccinations are by texting ORCOVID to 898211, emailing ORCOVID@211info.org or calling 211 or 1-866-698-6155 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, including holidays.

Jackson County residents also can visit jacksoncountyor.org/hhs/COVID-19/COVID-19-News/where-to-get-vaccinated-in-jackson-county for a list of local providers.

The Pfizer vaccination is for children age 6 months through 4 years old. The vaccination series requires three shots spread out over about three months.

The Moderna vaccination is for children age 6 months through 5 years old. The vaccination series is two shots about one month apart. A third dose is recommended for children who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

The doses for both Pfizer and Moderna shots are smaller for babies and little kids than adult-sized doses.

The most common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years were:

  • For children 6 to 23 months old: irritability and drowsiness.
  • For children 2 to 5 years: pain at the injection site, low fever and fatigue.
  • No myocarditis cases were reported in clinical trials. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart wall.

“We have seen that individuals who are vaccinated are at far lower risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19,” said Dr. Leona O’Keefe, health officer for Jackson County Public Health.

After COVID-19 vaccines became available to older children, children younger than 5 became the most hospitalized pediatric group. About half of those children were healthy with no prior health conditions that would put them at risk of developing severe complications, according to a June Oregon Health Authority report on how COVID-19 impacted different age groups of kids.

“We are grateful to have safe, effective vaccines finally available for our youngest children to help protect them against potentially serious disease and long COVID,” O’Keefe said. “I know decisions to care for our children are not always easy, so I urge parents and caretakers to discuss questions and concerns with their child’s health care provider.”

COVID-19 vaccines haven’t been approved yet for babies who are less than 6 months old. However, Jackson County Public Health said parents and caregivers still can take steps to protect babies, including:

  • Vaccinate yourself and those who spend time with your child.
  • People who are pregnant should get vaccinated, as the antibodies are passed on to the baby. Babies born to vaccinated mothers are far less likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 or end up hospitalized for COVID-19.
  • Breastfeeding can provide antibodies from the mother’s breast milk.