Following unanimous approval from its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 5-11-year-olds. Children are now eligible to be immunized against the coronavirus, another important step in ending a pandemic that has lasted nearly two years.

Appointments at Essentia Health are required for 5-11-year-olds and can be made with the child’s primary care provider or pediatrician. Patients can schedule through ourMyChart patient portal or by calling (833) 494-0836. 

The vaccine has been proven safe and effective for children. It is a lower dose (10 micrograms) than that used for individuals ages 12 and older (30 micrograms).  

Anyone under the age of 18 must bring this consent form, signed by a parent or guardian.

“Our children have had nearly two school years disrupted by COVID-19, not to mention some children being seriously ill—and even dying—from the virus,” said Dr. Jonathan KenKnight, a pediatrician at Essentia. “With safe and effective vaccines now available for this age group, we are another step closer to ending the pandemic. We at Essentia Health encourage vaccinating your children to keep them healthy and safe so that they can continue in school and other activities.”

Essentia offered guidance on preparing a child for any vaccine:

• Be honest and use age-appropriate language when explaining shots to your child.

• Play or bring a toy for distraction.

• Validate the child’s emotions regarding vaccines.  

• If anxious, practice breathing exercises at home or pick a favorite distraction tool and/or comfort item to bring with.

“We always encourage parents to be honest and patient with your child when it comes to getting vaccines, and talk about going to the doctor more often,” said Michelle Finneman, a child life specialist at Essentia. “Children are smart; they feed off their caregiver’s energy. So if we can begin early on to talk positively, using honest language with our children about going to the doctor and discussing the importance of vaccines with them, as well as meeting their individual needs, it will make for a more positive experience now and for future clinic appointments or hospital stays.”