Minnesota parents looking to vaccinate their grade school-age kids against COVID-19 will have multiple options for getting a shot, Gov. Tim Walz's administration announced Wednesday.
Why it matters: Vaccinating younger kids should help curb the spread of COVID-19 as families prepare to gather for the holidays and we all head indoors for the winter.
While children are at lower risk of serious illness, about 45,200 have contracted the virus in Minnesota since July 1, per the state's top health official. More than 300 have been hospitalized.
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Driving the news: State officials are planning to roll out vaccinations for 5 to 11 year olds in anticipation of the federal government's expected authorization of Pfizer's vaccine for the younger cohort.
The vaccines could be available as soon as Monday, contingent on final approval.
By the numbers: About 510,000 kids will be newly eligible for the shot, according to a Walz spokesperson.
Health commissioner Jan Malcolm says the state is expected to have about 170,000 children's doses at the time of approval, with more to follow.
What they're saying: "This is a really exciting development and it comes at a crucial moment as we are definitely still seeing a high level of case transmission in the state," Malcolm said on a Wednesday call with reporters.
What to expect: Free shots will be available through more than 1,000 providers and sites, including pediatrician offices, tribal health agencies and pharmacies.
At least 20 schools will offer vaccination clinics, with a focus on "high-need areas" over the next month.
Capacity at the state's vaccination site at the Mall of America will also increase to up to 1,500 shots per day.
Yes, but: Malcolm cautioned that parents looking to book through a pediatrician might need to exercise patience given the stress patient volume is putting on many health systems.
The bottom line: To schedule a shot for your 5-11 year old, call your pediatrician or health clinic's office or visit the state's vaccine locator site once approval is granted.
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