What to Know
- New York City-run vaccine sites started offering COVID shots to kids aged 5-11 Thursday -- and those kids are eligible for $100 bonuses, too; the state on Friday launched a new website to assist parents
- The Pfizer doses will be available for kids under 12 at major drug chains like Walgreens and CVS starting this weekend, and many providers have already begun to administer shots to the newest group
- The CDC recommended the vaccine for emergency use among kids age 5-11 at 1/3 of the dose given to adolescents and adults; research shows it to be 90.7% effective in preventing infection among them
The New York State Department of Health released new clinical guidance Friday regarding Pfizer's lower-dose COVID vaccine for kids under 12 and also launched a new website dedicated to helping parents navigate the system.
The new website, ny.gov/Vaxforkids, offers answers to frequently asked questions for the newly eligible age group -- kids aged 5 to 11 -- and provides a wealth of resources for those seeking additional information. At this point, state mass vaccination sites are not administering COVID vaccines to kids in that age group.
Parents of kids ages 5 to 11 who try to schedule an appointment on the state website receive a message that says their children aren't eligible for shots at mass vaccination sites and refers them to their pediatricians, family physicians, county health departments, pharmacies and other providers already administering doses.
It's not clear if the state plans to open mass vaccination sites to these younger kids at some point. Gov. Kathy Hochul has said she expects parents to be more comfortable having their young children dosed within their communities and at their longtime pediatric offices, but she is open to the idea should it be warranted. Many state mass vaccination sites have halted operations due to lacking demand.
But the state -- and the city -- have a glut of providers prepared to get shots into kids' arms and want to make the process as seamless as possible for parents. New York City-run vaccine sites began accepting kids aged 5 to 11 on Thursday -- and kids in that group who do get dosed at those sites are eligible for $100 bonuses.
Both walk-ins and appointments are accepted.
New York City and New Jersey Vaccine Providers
Click on each provider to find more information on scheduling appointments for the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Data: City of New York, State of New Jersey • Nina Lin / NBC
Getting these younger kids their first doses now allows plenty of time to have them fully protected before Christmas. Kids have to wait three weeks between doses, just like everyone else, but even if they won't be fully inoculated by Thanksgiving, one dose still offers some added protection for travel or family gatherings, officials say.
If a city-run site doesn't suit your needs, no worries. There are plenty of options -- and both New York City Mayor de Blasio and Hochul say they don't care which avenues parents take to immunize their kids. They just hope they choose one.
To that end, New York City, home to the nation's largest public school district, will launch a citywide in-school drive next week, offering COVID vaccination days at every school that serves kids in the newly eligible age group. That program starts Monday and will run through the following Monday, reaching what amounts to more than 1,000 public school sites -- about 200 sites daily -- in six school days.
Newly eligible children whose parents opt for the in-school route must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when they get their COVID shots. Verbal consent can also be provided by phone, de Blasio has said.
As he put it earlier this week, "All choices are good choices, but we want to make it available and easy for parents who prefer just to go to their local school building."
The developments come days after the CDC approved Pfizer's vaccine on an emergency use basis for kids aged 5 to 11 at 1/3 of the dose given to adolescents and adults. The agency cited research that shows those lower-dose shots to be safe and 90.7% effective in preventing infection among kids of that age. Effectiveness is even higher when it comes to preventing severe COVID cases.
"This is the moment all of us have been waiting for, the opportunity to protect more of our children from this dangerous virus," Hochul said in a statement Friday. "As we head into the holiday season, I urge all parents and guardians to reach out to their pediatricians and family physicians to get their 5 - 11 year-olds vaccinated against COVID-19. We finally have this vaccine available to help keep our children, as well as our loved ones, safe and healthy, and it is critical that we take advantage of it."