What will the COVID-19 vaccine mean for 5 to 11-year-olds in Minnesota?

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(ABC 6 News) – The FDA advisory panel is recommending doses of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five to 11 across the country.

Minnesota and health care providers like Children’s Minnesota are waiting for the FDA’s official authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for use in this age group as well as recommendations and guidelines from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Vaccinations for this age group will now provide another level of protection against COVID-19 in our communities.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is encouraging parents to get their kids vaccinated and to get fully vaccinated before the holidays to keep everyone safe and healthy.

"The hope is that if enough children can get the vaccine in a timely manner, we can quickly get to this community immunity, or herd immunity, levels that will allow us to finally bring an end to this pandemic," Joe Kurland, MPH, CIC, an infection preventionist and vaccine specialist at Children’s Minnesota in the Twin Cities, said.

The Kaiser Family Foundation says that one in three parents with children in this age group say their child will get a COVID-19 vaccine right away once it becomes available.

But Kurland says that one in three parents is pretty typical. He says the goal will be to really encourage and highlight that this is a safe vaccine.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz laid out a plan to vaccinate five to 11-year-olds on Wednesday following the FDA advisory panel’s recommendation saying "the state is prepared for this critical moment in the battle against COVID-19… We’ll be ready to do our part when the federal government gives us the green light."

MDH Commissioner, Jan Malcolm, says getting your child vaccinated protects them from the worst impacts of COVID-19.

"Getting your child vaccinated helps them stay safe in school, sports and other social activities… And getting Minnesota’s kids vaccinated will let our kids get back to focusing on being kids again," Malcolm said.

"I think it’s just a hesitancy at the outset when something new like this comes on the market," Kurland said. "I know I have two children, 8 and 10 years old, that are very excited to have this. They don’t like shots, but they’re ready to get this vaccine to kind of do their part and get school back to normal."

The state is working to have multiple venues and opportunities to get our children vaccinated. The Walz-Flanagan Administration has mobilized a network of more than 1,100 providers to administer these shots, from vaccination clinics to primary care providers and pharmacies.

It is also important to not that the vaccine that is being provided for the five to 11 age group is different than what is given to kids 12 and older because it is a smaller dose.

Vaccinations may not be immediately available as clinics have to train their staff on giving these shots to kids and other protocols.

A final recommendation could come as early as November.