Vaccinations for children 5-11 underway

Published 9:51 pm Friday, November 12, 2021

Sisters Lila and Lucy Peterson got out of school early Friday to drive with their mother to Mayo Clinic Health System’s HealthReach campus.

Though a little nervous, the sisters, 10 and 7 years of age, one at a time received their first COVID-19 vaccinations with the encouragement of their mother, Missy Routh, who received her first and second vaccine doses in March and April.

“It hurt a little bit, but other than that it feels fine,” said 10-year-old Lila after receiving her vaccination.

Mayo Clinic Health System sites started offering vaccinations for children 5 to 11 years of age Nov. 5, after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for the age group.

It was a quick process for the girls, as the nurse one by one cleaned a spot on their arms for the injection site with an alcohol wipe and then sprayed the same spot lightly with a numbing spray.

Then, after counting to three, the nurse administered the vaccination. They will receive their second dose in three weeks.

“They’ve been able to not get it thus far, and I just wanted to ensure that they wouldn’t get super sick if they did get it and to protect people who can’t get it yet,” Routh said.

She said the family is also going on vacation in March, and they wanted to go ahead and take care of the vaccines in case there were any travel vaccine mandates and in case the vaccines are not as readily available later.

The girls said their grandma and grandpa have COVID right now, and their grandfather is in the hospital.

Though the girls and their mother have not contracted COVID themselves, they said they’ve had to undergo their share of COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began. Being vaccinated can shorten the quarantine period, Routh said.

“I just want to get back to regular life again,” Routh said. “I feel this is one step you can take to do that.”

According to Mayo Clinic Health System, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was at least 91% effective in children 5 to 11 in clinical trials. The vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds is one-third of the adolescent/adult dose in each dose.

“It doesn’t hurt, and don’t be afraid,” Lila said was her advice to other children looking to get the vaccine.

Parents and legal guardians can schedule appointments for their children using their child’s Patient Online Services account, through the Mayo Clinic App or by calling 877-858-0398.

Albert Lea Area Schools also announced this week that it was providing vaccinations in partnership with Freeborn County Public Health after school on Nov. 18 at Halverson and Hawthorne elementary schools and after school on Nov. 22 at Lakeview and Sibley elementary schools.

Campaign to vaccinate elementary school children in U.S. off to strong start

About 900,000 kids aged 5 to 11 will have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in their first week of eligibility, the White House said, providing the first glimpse at the pace of the school-aged vaccination campaign.

“We’re off to a very strong start,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, during a briefing with reporters.

Final clearance for the shots was granted by federal regulators on Nov. 2, with the first doses to kids beginning in some locations the following day.

The estimated increase in vaccinations in elementary school age children appears similar to a jump seen in May, when adolescents ages 12 to 15 became eligible for shots.