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Minnesota starts vaccination effort for children ages 5-11

The state has also launched a website to help parents find vaccines for children

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Photo: Unsplash/Fusion Medical Animation
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ST. PAUL — The state of Minnesota is beginning its push to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11 years old against COVID-19 following federal approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for younger children.

The final recommendation issued Tuesday, Nov. 2, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention means more than 500,000 children in Minnesota are now eligible for vaccination, according to a statement from Gov. Tim Walz's office announcing the state's new pediatric vaccination efforts.

In anticipation of federal approval, the Walz administration said it has mobilized more than a thousand providers to give vaccines to younger children. More than 600 pharmacies in the state are ready to provide vaccinations as well.

Walz's office said it is also partnering with three school districts and charter schools to host vaccination clinics. So far, 15 clinics are planned at schools in "high-need areas" across the state over the next three weeks.

Health providers from across the Dakotas and Minnesota including Sanford Health and the Mayo Clinic expect to start offering pediatric vaccines by the end of this week. Duluth-based Essentia Health started offering younger children the shot on Wednesday.

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The Food and Drug Administration last week granted emergency approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 5-11 after an ongoing safety study found no serious side effects in roughly 3,100 children from that age group.

"A lot of scrutiny was paid to this," Mayo pediatrician Dr. Robert Jacobson said in a Wednesday media call. "We have more monitoring in place for this vaccine than we've had for any other vaccine we've rolled out here in the US. In that sense, it is the safest vaccine we've ever delivered in the United States."

Jacobson also offered advice on easing children's anxiety about getting the shot.

"Parents shouldn't surprise a child with a vaccination. The child should not first be hearing about the vaccine when they show up at a provider's office or a pharmacy. Usually, I recommend parents to talk to their children in the days before a vaccination coming up," Jacobson said. "Secondly you should explain to the child that the pain of the infection will come and go but the benefits are long lasting."

Children are at a lower risk than adults of severe illness from coronavirus, but can still develop serious symptoms, according to the CDC. Much like adults, children with conditions like asthma or obesity are more likely to become seriously ill, and in rare cases, some develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) , a serious and potentially deadly condition. Children are also capable of spreading the virus.

The pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is one-third the size of a dose for people 12 and older. It's packaged differently than the standard vaccine, so parents seeking immunization for younger children must go to a location that has the pediatric version of the shot. Children must also get two doses of vaccine 21 days apart.

Minnesota has launched a new webpage for parents seeking information on vaccines for children: https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/vaxforkids/ .

The following are the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations as of Wednesday, Nov. 3. Because all data is preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

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Statewide case rates

  • NEW CASES: 2,956
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE OF NEW CASES PER 100,000 PEOPLE: 41.5 (as of 10/25)

  • TOTAL CASES, INCLUDING REINFECTIONS: 807,956
  • TOTAL REINFECTIONS: 8,406
  • SEVEN-DAY, ROLLING AVERAGE TEST POSITIVITY RATE: 7.9 (as of 10/25)

The Minnesota Department of Health now is reporting total reinfections. In keeping with CDC terminology, this denotes cases in which a person tests positive more than 90 days after a previous positive test.

Hospitalizations, deaths

  • ACTIVE HOSPITALIZATIONS: 1,004

  • TOTAL HOSPITALIZATIONS: 41,739

  • DEATHS, NEWLY REPORTED: 43

  • TOTAL DEATHS: 8,761

Vaccinations

  • FIRST DOSE ADMINISTERED: 3,476,404

  • COMPLETED SERIES (2 doses): 3,322,036

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Forum News Service reporter Paul John Scott contributed to this report.

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