COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5 in Wisconsin to start in coming days following CDC approval

NOW: COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5 in Wisconsin to start in coming days following CDC approval

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Health providers in southeastern Wisconsin are preparing for an influx of their youngest COVID-19 vaccine recipients following approval from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control of Pfizer's and Moderna's shots for children ages 5 to 6 months.

The only remaining hurdle for COVID-19 vaccines to be administered to kids under 5 is a green light from the state Department of Health Services.

"As soon as CDC releases updated clinical guidance, we will review and update our vaccination guidance accordingly," DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said in a statement. "Providers will then have the information they need to vaccinate children in this age group and parents can make plans for their children to get vaccinated. The vaccines are expected to arrive in Wisconsin early next week."

At Hayat Pharmacy, staff were already fielding calls from parents on Saturday, June 18, asking about the vaccines for the youngest segment of the population. Hayat CEO Hashim Zaibak said most questions are about when the shots will be available and what are the side effects.

"Most of the side effects were similar to other vaccine side effects," Zaibak said. "Local reaction, little bit of fever, that's about it."

He added he expects to receive vaccine doses from the state as early as Monday, June 20 and plans on administering shots soon after DHS updates its guidance.

Kids 5 years old to 6 months may not be able to have as wide access to providers as older groups because of regulations for some pharmacies and other locations.

"Call first," Zaibak said. "Ask them, 'can you take care of my children?' Because there are going to be sites that are going to vaccinate 3 years and older and there are going to be sites that vaccinate 6 months and older."

Hayat will be able to provide vaccine shots to those as young as 6 months, Zaibak said. 

Experts at UW-Madison said hospitalization and death are rare for kids under 5 who get COVID-19 but it remains a possibility.

"It can cause some severe issues with the heart and other organs [like] lungs, so it can be severe in young children," Gregory DeMuri, a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at UW-Madison told CBS 58 in an interview.

He added, getting young kids vaccinated is an important public health effort, too.

"We want to vaccinate young children really to kind of keep our daycares open to keep those kids healthy, to keep them in school, all those things that a small child should be doing and preventing transmission to their household family members," DeMuri said.

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