GREAT FALLS — The Pfizer vaccine has received approval from the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for kids 5 and up, and health officials expect vaccination numbers in the county to climb in response to the approval.
Millions of kids across the country are now eligible for the vaccine and many parents have been asking questions about it for months. Health officials are excited the vaccine is approved for ages 5 and up and think it will help shed light on some of the questions people have had.
Trisha Gardner, the Cascade County Health Officer, says they have had people asking questions about the vaccine for both kids and adults and encourages people to talk with their healthcare providers to get more information about it.
“Right now, 50% of our eligible population is fully vaccinated. I do anticipate, because we’re adding more people to that, we’re going to see that go down initially. But the hope is families will take advantage of this opportunity to get their kids vaccinated and that we will see those numbers increase in that age range quite quickly,” Gardner said.
It may take time, but the White House says there are enough vaccines available and say they have ordered enough doses to vaccinate all children 5-11 in the country. The main difference is the dosage, which will be smaller in this vaccine and shots are expected to roll out by the end of the week.
Benefis Health System in Great Falls is preparing with special clinics to vaccinate the age group; Benefis shared the following in a Facebook post:
Benefis will be holding vaccine clinics every Wednesday from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. beginning Nov. 10 and running through Dec. 8 for this age group. Shots will not be available for those 12 and older at these clinics, as those dosages are different. Appointments are required and need to be made online at Benefis.org/covidvaccine. There is no cost to receive the vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccines will not be available during routine pediatrician appointments.
- If you need to schedule multiple family members, you will need to schedule each person individually.
- Keep an eye out for an email containing a questionnaire to complete beforehand to help keep things moving the day of the clinic.
- An appointment for your second dose will be made at the time of your first shot.
Vaccine Clinic Location: Benefis Pediatrics, 1300 28th Street South, Medical Office Building 11, Floor 2, Suite 6
Benefis spokesperson Kaci Husted said they have a steady supply of vaccines ready to be administered and that the vaccine for kids 5-11 will be available only at the clinics and not during a regular checkup or other appointment.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics and all the other related associations are supportive of this. They think it’s been thoroughly reviewed by the CDC as well as other organizations. It’s gone through all the appropriate vetting processes, and I think it’s definitely something parents should be considering doing for their kids,” Husted said.
Some parents have mixed feelings about the vaccine as well. One parent we spoke with said they “aren’t against it but still feel uncomfortable with vaccinating their 5-year-old right away.” Another said they want to “vaccinate their kids as soon as they can and give them an extra protective measure, so they can stay as healthy as possible.”
If you want to get vaccinated, contact your county health department, or click here.