Alaskans under age 5 can now get COVID vaccines

A girl in a pink shirt and mask gets a shot
Ciara Sexton winces as Meghan DeSloover gives her a COVID-19 vaccine shot at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School in Juneau on Nov. 9, 2021. She says getting her ears pierced was worse. Also pictured: Jamison Smith. (Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Young children in Alaska can now get COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC authorized vaccines for kids 6 months and older this weekend, and health care providers in Alaska started giving doses on Monday.

For Chugiak parent Danielle Weaver, the news is a relief.

She has a 1-year-old son named Randall. Throughout the pandemic, she and her husband have been cautious, avoiding child care outside their home and asking people to wear masks when they hold Randall. When his pediatrician’s office, LaTouche Pediatrics, posted on Facebook Tuesday that they’d received Moderna doses, she called right away.

“In a lot of ways, it seems like the general population has kind of forgotten that the youngest members of our society are unprotected,” she said. “And that’s been affecting the parents of those kids. I have a little one, so I still have to take precautions.”

In Anchorage, pediatric vaccines are available at Fairweather’s Tikahtnu Commons clinic and a pop-up clinic in Fairview every day for the rest of the month. More information is available online. Alaskans outside of Anchorage can visit vaccines.gov to look for nearby providers with pediatric vaccines in stock. Pediatricians are also scheduling appointments.

The vaccine made by Moderna for kids under 5 is a two-dose series, and Pfizer has a three-dose vaccine for kids under 6. Moderna’s doses are given 28 days apart. Pfizer’s first two doses are given 21 days apart, and the second and third doses are given at least eight weeks apart.

By Wednesday, 11,000 doses had been delivered to Alaska health care providers, according to the state health department. Anchorage providers received 5,400 of those doses.

Vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 first became available in November. By mid-February, 25% of Alaska kids in that age group had received at least one dose. That number hasn’t risen much since. Currently, 29% of kids ages 5 to 11 have received at least one dose. In an interview earlier this month, state immunization program manager Matthew Bobo said he expects a similar trend for the youngest group.

“I think that we’ll see some parents that want to get their children vaccinated in the front of the line and the first to get the vaccines in arms, and then I think there will be a lull,” he said.

The state health department will host an online presentation on Tuesday, June 28, from 7 to 8 p.m. to provide information about the vaccines and answer parents’ questions.

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CORRECTION: This story has been updated. A previous version misstated the spacing between doses for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

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