Walz highlights state’s plan to vaccinate kids ages 5-11 following FDA advisory

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On Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz highlighted the state’s plan to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to children ages 5-11 after the U.S. Food and Drug Advisory Committee voted to recommend the use of the Pfizer vaccine to that age range.

Minnesota’s network of providers — including pharmacies, health care systems, clinics, local public health and tribal health agencies, school and state-run community clinics — can begin vaccinating eligible children once final eligibility recommendations are issued by the federal government next week.

"Every 5- (to) 11-year-old in Minnesota deserves the protection the COVID-19 vaccine has to offer," Walz said in a statement. "The state is prepared for this critical moment in the battle against COVID-19. Our goal is to ensure that the vaccine is widely, equitably, and efficiently available to all children ages 5-11. We’ll be ready to do our part when the federal government gives us the green light, and I encourage parents to get their children vaccinated when the shots are ready."

State health and education officials are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated to keep COVID out of the classroom and protect loved ones around the holidays.

“Getting your students vaccinated lets you know that your child is protected from severe cases of covid-19. It also reduces the need for quarantining and allows them to stay safe and keep participating in school sports and other social activities,” Heather Mueller, Minnesota Department of Education commissioner, said.

It’s up to parents to make the final decision about their kids getting the shot.

Health experts said if you’re on the fence and have questions, ask.

“We know the parents have a lot of questions. So please seek out trusted resources that can help you to understand the data on vaccinations, their benefits and any risks,” Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Department of Health commissioner, said.

In response to community feedback and to meet families where they are, Walz’s administration has mobilized a network of more than 1,100 providers to administer COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 5-11. That network includes the following:

  • More than 530 pediatric and family medicine clinics, primary care providers, federally qualified health centers, local public health agencies, tribal health agencies, and Indian Health Service locations have said they are prepared to vaccinate Minnesota children.
  • Additionally, over 600 pharmacies are actively planning to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to children under the age of 12 in some or all their locations, based on their supply from the federal government.
  • To ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine, expand access to more children and meet Minnesota families where they are, the administration will partner with school districts and charter schools to host vaccination clinics in school buildings for children and families.
  • The state’s community vaccination program location at the Mall of America has tripled its capacity to provide up to 1,500 shots per day to 5- to 11-year-olds shortly after the vaccine is authorized by the CDC.
  • MDH’s COVID-19 community coordinators will host clinics offering not only vaccines to this age range but shots for the whole family.
  • After reviewing the clinical trial data that demonstrated safety and high protection, the advisory committee recommended that the FDA authorize the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children in this age range.

The state is awaiting the FDA’s official authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for use in this age group, as well as recommendations from the CDC’s advisory committee, to provide the authorization doctors and health care providers need before they start vaccinating. The committee is expected to meet on Nov. 2-3.

"These vaccines have been shown to be safe and highly effective, and they are our best tools for protecting Minnesotans from COVID-19," Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement. "The evidence shows COVID-19 can be severe and have long-lasting health impacts — sometimes even among young and healthy people. Getting your children vaccinated helps them stay safe during school, sports and other social activities. Plan ahead, talk to your family physician, and once your child is eligible, find a vaccine opportunity near you to get your child protected."

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

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