Health officials urge Minnesotans to get kids vaccinated against COVID-19

[anvplayer video=”5152523″ station=”998122″]

Minnesota health officials are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated against COVID-19 as the holidays quickly approach.

Days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared the updated vaccines for kids under the age of 5, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is asking Minnesotans to ensure their families, including young kids, are up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations.

Children under 5 first became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines back in June. However, MDH says the vaccination rate for kids ages 6 months through 4 years old is less than 17% in Minnesota, and less than 5% are up to date on COVID vaccinations.

“Thankfully, children getting very sick from COVID-19 is not very common, but children do get COVID-19 and we can’t predict which children will get very sick, so prevention is the best option,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “The best way to protect your child and your family is to get them vaccinated against COVID-19, and that includes the updated bivalent vaccine when they are due.”

Health officials say vaccinations are important because their protection can decrease over time, especially as the strains of COVID-19 mutate.

The vaccines are still free to all Minnesotans at both state and private sites, regardless of insurance status.

“These vaccines are safe and one of the best tools we have to protect our children’s health,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said. “Vaccination helps keep children safe and healthy, and helps protect other vulnerable family members, like grandma and grandpa, by reducing spread.”

“Many children have fallen behind on recommended vaccines during the pandemic,” Dr. Lynfield added. “Talk to your health care provider about scheduling a well-child visit. These visits are important for tracking your child’s growth and developmental milestones, discussing any concerns about your child’s health, and getting recommended vaccinations, including COVID-19 and influenza vaccines, to prevent illnesses.”

MDH officials noted that hospitals across the state are trying to deal with an influx of patients and it’s important for Minnesotans to do all they can to stay healthy.

“Our hospitals have been incredibly busy this fall and winter. We want to do everything we can to help keep children healthy and vaccines are one of the best ways to do that,” Malcolm added. “The diseases that vaccines prevent are real, even though we don’t see some of them often. Letting our guard down with decreasing immunization rates opens the door for more disease outbreaks and disruptions to families’ lives. Talk to your child’s doctor to make sure they are up to date on all recommended childhood immunizations, including COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.”