Youngest kids eligible for COVID-19 vaccine; shots in La Crosse to begin in early July

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Children between 6 months and 4 years of age throughout the country got their first COVID-19 shots Tuesday, but it will be a few more weeks before the vaccinations are available to that age group in the La Crosse area.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off last week on the  three-dose Pfizer series or the two-dose Moderna series for children those ages.

Health officials say it has been a long time coming, to reduce the potential for thousands of hospitalizations.

“But really, sparing children from this potential of long COVID is really why it’s necessary,” said Dr. Raiv Naik, a vaccine expert and pediatrician at Gundersen Health.

“Children… have so much potential in their lives,” said Naik, a vaccine expert. “The consequences from having a chronic problem related to a vaccine preventable disease is something that can be a real tragedy.”

Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System expect to start vaccinating young kids by the first full week of July.

But research shows: parents might not be rushing to vaccination sites.

“This rollout will probably go slower than others,” Naik said.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that only 18% of parents are eager to vaccinate their littles right away. A larger group, 38%, say they plan to wait awhile to see how the vaccine works for others. 25% say they definitely will not get their child vaccinated, and 11% say they will only do it if it is required.

Naik is a vaccine expert. He has looked over the research and data, and says research shows the vaccine is safe and effective.

“I feel very comfortable with it, and I hope with these honest conversations with parents we can help a lot of parents become comfortable with their decisions as well,” Naik said.

As the pandemic presses on, medical experts say this news will help parents better protect their youngest children as they return to school.

“So that kids, when they go to preschool, when they go to school, they don’t bring those illnesses to mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and create community outbreaks,” said Ben Anderson, a nursing administrator at Mayo Clinic.

If you want to get your child vaccinated as soon as the shots are available in La Crosse, you can call or go online to request an appointment at either provider.

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