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Kids as young as 6 months can now get the COVID vaccine. Here’s how to find it in N.H.

Kids draw with chalk outside of a vaccine clinic at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester
Cori Princell
Clinics like this one at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester were held across New Hampshire after the COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for kids ages 5 to 11 last fall.

Children as young as six months can now get vaccinated against COVID-19.

New Hampshire health officials say more than 10,000 doses of the vaccine for young children are already on their way to providers and patients, with more likely to arrive in the coming weeks.

It might take some time before doctors offices and other clinics are ready to start giving these shots to patients, though. With that in mind, it might be best to call ahead or book an appointment online. Some doctors' offices are only offering shots to their patients, not the general public.

Here’s more of what you need to know about this latest round of vaccination.

If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines for young children or want to share other thoughts, let us know at voices@nhpr.org.

Who can get the vaccine?

Children between 6 months and 5 years old are now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. The shots are not yet authorized for infants under 6 months old.

COVID-19 vaccines have been available for children age 5 and older since last fall.

For all age groups, COVID-19 vaccines are available free of charge.

What shots are available, and how many are needed?

Federal officials recently approved vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna for children as young as 6 months.

There are some key differences between these vaccines, according to state health officials:

  • Pfizer: Offered as a three-shot series to children between 6 months and 4 years old.
  • Moderna: Offered as a two-shot series to children between 6 months and 5 years old, with the option of a third dose for children who are “moderately or severely immunocompromised.”

For a deeper comparison of the two vaccines for young children, check out this explainer from STAT News.

Dr. Benjamin Chan, New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist, said he expects boosters will eventually be recommended for this age group, as well, but those are still being researched.

Where can I get my child vaccinated?

If you have a pediatrician, primary care provider or another health provider you typically rely on for your child’s medical care, state officials say you should first contact them to see if they’re offering the COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 5.

If they aren’t offering the shot, state officials say the following pharmacies and providers will also be administering COVID-19 vaccines:

You can find a map and more information on public vaccine providers here.

What kind of side effects are expected?

While state and federal officials have said these vaccines haven’t caused any serious safety concerns, young children might experience side effects similar to those seen in older age groups.

Chan, New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist, said symptoms could include pain, swelling or redness at the injection site, as well as fever, muscle aches or fatigue. In young infants, he said, that could show up as drowsiness, irritability or decreased appetite.

Most of the time, Chan said, those symptoms will come and go within a few days of vaccination.

“Just to be clear,” Chan said, “there were no new safety concerns or issues identified with these vaccines in the clinical trials.”

Who decided these vaccines were safe?

A panel advising the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously last week to recommend that the agency authorize the vaccine, and a panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed up several days later with another unanimous vote in favor of authorizing the shots, as reported by NPR. Both the FDA and CDC heeded those recommendations, opening up the vaccines to children in this age group.

As explained by STAT News, these federal agencies and their advisory panels weighed the risks posed by COVID-19 against the efficacy and potential risks of the vaccines themselves.

“Those trusted with the care of children can have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of these COVID-19 vaccines and can be assured that the agency was thorough in its evaluation of the data,” FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said in a statement following his agency’s decision to authorize the vaccines.

Chan, New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist, has echoed this endorsement.

“We continue to see the negative impacts that COVID-19 has on individuals, on families, on communities, on society as a whole,” Chan said. “The data and the evidence has been very clear that these vaccines are not only effective — particularly at preventing severe disease, but also preventing some of the long term complications of COVID — but these vaccines are also safe.”

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