The COVID-19 vaccine has finally been approved for children under 5 in the U.S. As of Saturday, the CDC is recommending that all children six months and older get the vaccine, giving an additional 18 million a chance to be immunized against the virus.
After receiving FDA approval, the vaccine was greenlit by Jewish mom Rochelle Walensky, the current director of the CDC, who said in a statement: “Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against COVID-19.” Walesnky is a mother of three who credits her local Massachusetts Jewish community for helping her get through the early days of the pandemic; she’s also an HIV/AIDS expert, the former Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Harvard Medical School professor. So if you like getting your medical advice from a smart and very accomplished Jewish doctor, this nation’s leading one definitely wants you to get your children vaccinated.
For me and my fellow parents of toddlers and babies, this is truly a shehechiyanu moment. A lot of us (OK, so most likely allI of us) have had a rough go of it since March 2020, and while this vaccine doesn’t mean an end to it (hello, new Covid surge!), it does mean another much-needed layer of security for our kids, and a lot of worry taken off our very exhausted shoulders.
Currently, the FDA and the CDC have only approved the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines for children under 5 to be administered in pediatric doses. The Moderna pediatric vaccine requires two doses to be fully effective, while the Pfizer shot requires three shots.
For fellow neurotic Jewish moms (I say this with love and fondness, very much including myself) of young ones, the current pressing question is: How do I get my hands on the vaccine?! Like yesterday?! While vaccines are approved starting this week, the rollout has been slow. So we’ve put together a quick guide for how to get your littles vaccinated (and once you’ve gotten your hand on a coveted vaccine appointment, we’ve got some specially written Jewish prayers to help give this moment even more meaning.) No, this isn’t official medical advice, and yes, please consult your doctors if you have any questions!
Call your pediatrician
The best place to vaccinate your kid is probably their pediatrician’s office, which may or may not be why you can’t get their office on the phone right now. Doses will probably be in high demand in the coming days, and it may be a while before your pediatrician’s office even has them. Still, it’s worth checking in with your child’s care team about their vaccine, even if you don’t end up getting it there.
Try a chain pharmacy
Both CVS and Walgreens plan to administer the vaccine to children under five. Walgreens currently only has appointments for children under 3 in select locations, while CVS plans to have appointments for children 18 months and older. Hy-Vee pharmacies will also vaccinate young children, according to CNN, and other chain pharmacies that offer COVID-19 vaccination are likely to follow suit.
Check the CDC’s vaccination portal or your local vaccine portal
The CDC’s vaccine finder, Vaccines.gov, will tell you which pharmacies by you have available doses and provide an address and a telephone number to call, or a website to schedule if there is one.
Depending on where you live, your state may also have a specific vaccine portal, like California’s My Turn.
I wish us all the best of luck out there. And hey, we’ve waited so long — what’s a few more days? We’ve survived the pandemic with children under 5… We truly can do anything.