The Indiana Department of Health announced Wednesday that Hoosiers ages 5 to 11 are now eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine. This is following Tuesday’s authorization of the pediatric vaccine by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that is currently authorized for use in individuals under age 18.
“Having a COVID-19 vaccine available to our younger Hoosiers is a game changer in terms of our efforts to keep children healthy and in school for in-person learning,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “Fully vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine if they are exposed but have no symptoms, so I encourage parents to get their children vaccinated if they are eligible.”
The pediatric vaccine will be available on a walk-in basis from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the vaccination clinic outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 4551 W. 16th St., Indianapolis.
Additional locations will be updated at www.ourshot.in.gov.
“Now, that won’t be up and running for 5 to 11 year olds until tomorrow,” said Melissa McMasters, Coordinator of Infectious Disease and Immunization Programs at Marion County Public Health Department. “But you can see that it’s not only going to be just health departments, it’ll be at pharmacies.”
CVS and Walgreens are now starting to schedule appointments for children on their websites. Availability varies depending on which community you’re in. Some locations in central Indiana had appointment times as early as this Monday, while others weren’t available until next Thursday.
“Definitely during the pandemic, they’ve lowered the age pharmacists can give vaccines, so that’s an option in our community,” McMasters said.
McMasters added that the availability of the pediatric vaccine will determine how quickly appointments can be made. Currently, she said Marion County has about 800 doses of the shots.
“It’s coming in waves,” she said. “So we’re getting initial doses, then more, then more. And they’re just being pushed, we’re not ordering.”
She also recommended that parents call their child’s pediatrician to ask when the vaccine could be available in their office. She noted that the pediatrician’s office may be the most comfortable setting for younger children to get a shot.
Dr. Gregory Smith, of Southpointe Pediatrics, said he expects his office to host a vaccine clinic at some point, but it will depend on when the doses are available.
“We knew this was coming, but we didn’t know it was coming quite this soon,” he said.
Smith agrees that checking the State Health Department’s website is probably the best first step for parents who want to schedule appointments for their children.
“You may be able to make appointments online and things like that, but I wouldn’t count on being able to run out and get one today, because it’s not likely that it’s going to happen quite that fast,” Smith said.
Beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, parents who wish to schedule an appointment for their child to receive the vaccine can do so at www.ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211 or (866) 211-9966 for assistance. Please note that 211 cannot make appointments until Thursday.
Individuals are encouraged to make an appointment or call ahead to ensure that a site has vaccine available prior to visiting the location. A parent or guardian must provide consent, and children under 16 must be accompanied to the vaccination appointment by an adult.
The pediatric dose of Pfizer is lower than the dosage for ages 12 and older, so parents should ensure they visit a site that carries the pediatric dosage. To find these clinics, visit https://ourshot.in.gov beginning Thursday and look for the pin designating sites with pediatric vaccine.