Covid vaccine for children under 5: The rollout is rocky

Filed Under: Costs, Patients, Providers

vaccine event flyer

The rollout of the Covid vaccine for children under 5 has started, but it’s still rocky in many places.

A week after the White House announced the rollout, and five days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved both the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines for very young children, the New York State vaccine-finder site was still saying that kids under 5 are not eligible for the vaccine.

As in previous rollouts, dedicated volunteers are on Facebook vaccine groups sharing information and helping parents make appointments and supplying information. For more, see our curtain-raiser here. 

tweet about vaccines

“Just came back from Brooklyn Children’s Museum where the lines were not long and the staff were so kind. We had an appointment but one isn’t needed — everyone queues together anyway. They vaccinate <5s inside, everyone is masked, and you get a free pass after. Highly recommend! Thanks to this group for your help and support,” one woman posted on a Facebook group for helping New Yorkers get vaccinated.

New York and Long Island vaccine events

New York City announced on Friday, June 17, that it would open 10 Moderna-only sites for only kids under 5, starting on Wednesday, June 22. The list is here on this Tweet and also below. New York State law allows pharmacies to vaccinate only 3 and up; pediatricians and the dedicated city cites can vaccinate 6 months and up.

“At least some crucial local providers in Westchester who ordered doses from the state haven’t heard back and are waiting for several admin steps to occur before they can get shots in arms, and that parents who want to get their little ones vaxxed around here — and have waited 2 and a half years! — they have no idea where to turn,” a longtime vaccine volunteer north of New York City wrote on Wednesday morning. “and even the state DOH’s own website hasnt updated its language to reflect that 0-4 are now eligible.”

Filling out the “am I eligible?” form on the New York State site for a person born Jan. 1, 2021, I was informed that I am not eligible.

A longtime vaccine volunteer in Westchester, Caitlin Mattina, wrote on Tuesday about the confusing status:

“So far I’ve seen Walgreens offering both vaccines but they like other regular pharmacies are restricted to age 3+. Riteaid has Pfizer for age 3+ as early as this weekend. CVS Minute Clinic can take 18 months+ but only Pfizer; Westchester appointments now available. [Pharmacists are not eligible to vaccinate children under 3 by law.]

“NYC has Moderna at its 10 NYC Vaccine Hubs for 6 months+ (vax4nyc site – this opened last night for scheduling). NYP/Cornell appears to have both and you can schedule through Connect portal if you are a patient.

“Stamford Hospital has both, they are booked through mid July already. Westmed will have Pfizer at their White Plains vaccine clinic but scheduling not open yet. I spoke with Westchester DOH yesterday — they might have shots end of next week but not sure.” She noted that many New York State sites are closed or closing permanently soon.”

On the Long Island Facebook group, another woman chimed in: “CVS minute clinics released appts for 18mo and older today. Seems like it’s Pfizer only though.”

vaccine question

Another woman added, “Rite Aid has appointments for 3-4 year olds but it looks like Pfizer only. ”

The Suffolk County Health Department in Hauppage, Long Island, has an event on June 23 for younger kids. “We are offering Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 6 mos. to 5 yrs. on Thurs., June 23, 2-5 p.m. at H. Lee Dennison Bldg in Hauppauge. Supply is limited. Registration is recommended. Appts available a.m. 6-22-22. Scan code, Visit https://vax4.suffolkcountyny.gov or Call 311,” the department wrote on its Facebook page.

The national vaccine finder page, vaccines.gov, has been gradually adding locations, though it seems spotty in places.

Connecticut locations for Covid vaccine for children under 5

Yale New Haven Health in Connecticut: “https://www.ynhhs.org/…/Vaccine/get-your-covid-vaccine YNHH is making appointments for kids ages 6 months and up. They’re offering Moderna.”

“Griffin Hospital in Connecticut posted on its Facebook page:

“Get The Vax Today!
“The DPH/Griffin Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be holding walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics for individuals throughout the state today, Wednesday, June 21 to make sure everyone has an opportunity to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community.
“Please note, the specific age groups for each clinic are listed after the town name. Booster doses, including pediatric boosters, will also be available at all clinics. For information on boosters, third doses, and mix-and-matching, please visit: https://www.griffinhealth.org/Coronavirus-COVID19-Information/COVID-19-Vaccination.
PORTLAND (6 month+) – Chatham Court, 9 Chatham Court, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
NORWICH (6 months+) – Marcus Plaza Pet Value, 624 West Main Street, from 12-5 p.m.
NEW LONDON (6 months+) – Church of the City, 250 State Street, from 1-7 p.m.
NEW HAVEN (12+) – New Haven Green, 250 Temple Street, from 12-6 p.m.
EAST HARTFORD (6 months+) – Raymond Library, 840 Main Street, from 4-7 p.m.”

Another woman announced: “Stamford Hospital is scheduling vaccines for ages 6 months and up but you cany request a specific brand. When you get there, if they have Moderna and Pfizer, you can choose. Otherwise, you get what’s there that day. ” She added this link.

A pharmacist posted for his business:

Milford Pharmacy & Home Care started administering the Moderna Vaccine for kids ages 3-5.
No appointments are required, just walk right in.
Message me for any questions
78 Broad Street
Milford CT
203.713.8101
Parking in rear

Los Angeles vaccines for kids

A Los Angeles woman wrote on the L.A. vaccine angel page: “For those in Los angeles, Tormed pharmacy in Torrance has Moderna for 3 and over. Walk in only. There was no wait when I went.”

vaccine booking site

Nearby, in Long Beach, this event was posted: “Starting Friday, we are vaccinating anyone 6 months of age and older. To accommodate children 5 and younger, appointments will only be made in the child-friendly clinical space at the Health Department. Let’s keep everyone healthy. More info at: longbeach.gov/vaxLB”

Another: “Just booked via myturn at Fatima Medical Clinic near MacArthur Park for tomorrow. Their myturn page says Moderna 6m-5yo and they take walk ins. I don’t have any experience with them but wanted to share. If we go tomorrow, I will report back.”

The pharmacist and the vaccine for under-5 kids

One woman wrote on Facebook: “My 4yo got her first dose of Moderna today! We had to drive to a neighboring state to a small independent pharmacy. I am a pharmacist, and have not been able to locate the vaccine anywhere close to home. I spoke with the pharmacist and asked if he had issues with my insurance (we are usually restricted to using my employer’s pharmacy) and he said the claim didn’t go through.

“The pharmacy was full of parents bringing their littles for vaccines, and he told me that NOT A SINGLE INSURANCE PLAN had paid the claim for the vaccine that day. Most have preferred pharmacy networks, and as a small independent pharmacy, he isn’t included. He asked for no payment, and expertly administered the vaccines to all of these kids.

“I just want to bring this to your attention so that you can be extra kind and understanding to the pharmacy staff, because most people don’t know what happens behind the scenes. This one in particular is receiving no reimbursement, yet is continuing to provide this service at a loss so that we can protect our kids. I thanked him profusely for ordering and stocking the vaccine when so many places have dropped the ball. So thankful for this pharmacist and his willingness to help the parents of the little ones!”

Which vaccine is best: Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson?

Parents online seem to be asking this question and sharing their opinions too.

There is no Johnson & Johnson for children.

vaccine fact sheet

Pfizer is nearly 3 months to “fully vaccinated” while Moderna is 4 weeks.

“Moderna has said two 25 microgram shots of its vaccine were around 37% effective in preventing infections in children ages 2 to 5 and 51% effective for children ages 6 months to 2 years,” Reuters reported. “Pfizer and BioNTech said that three shots of a 3 microgram formulation of their vaccine generated a similar immune response in that age group as in 16 to 25-year-olds who had received two doses of the 30 microgram formulation of the vaccine in an earlier clinical trial.”

Katelyn Jetelina, who writes as Your Local Epidemiologist, and is the parent of two under-5 girls, wrote:

We have a hard choice. Which vaccine should my kids get?

“You cannot make a wrong decision. Either vaccine is better than nothing, and both help with severe disease and death.

“To me, though, the choice is clear. My girls will get Moderna for four reasons:

  • The confidence in Pfizer’s efficacy is not strong… at all. Efficacy was only based on 3 cases in the vaccine group and 7 cases in the control group. Pfizer didn’t meet the standard protocol of 21 cases. This means the “true” effectiveness is unstable—it could be anywhere between 14% and 81%. We don’t know exactly where. Take 81% with a grain of salt.
  • Antibodies with Moderna reach the same levels in half the time compared to Pfizer (6 vs. 13 weeks). Kids are not protected until Dose 3 of Pfizer, which is a while.
  • Moderna confirmed they already started testing Dose 3 (booster) and will have data by this summer. We know that this vaccine is at least a 3-dose series. So, once we get Moderna and Pfizer on the same playing field, efficacy will be comparable. Importantly, Moderna is testing an Omicron-specific booster, not the original vaccine. This is different from the Pfizer trial, in which Dose 3 is the original formula. This is huge. By the end of summer, Moderna kids will likely be on the same playing field as adults, who will likely get a bivalent vaccine this fall.
  • FDA said they do not know whether the primary series for Pfizer is 3 doses or if this third dose is considered a booster. In other words, it may very well be that Pfizer kids will need a fourth dose for primary efficacy.”

NYC vaccine sites for children