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Parents struggle to find bivalent booster appointments for younger kids

The U.S. authorized updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 6 months old.

COLORADO, USA — Some parents that are trying to get their kids the omicron-specific COVID-19 booster ahead of the holidays are having a hard time finding a place that administers the vaccine to younger children. 

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Food and Drug Administration approved Moderna and Pfizer’s bivalent vaccine for children 6 months and older.

But, many major pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens, do not administer vaccines to children younger than three.

Lea Gibbens, who is from Loveland, said finding COVID-19 vaccines for her two-year-old son has been a challenge. Gibbens said she searched on Colorado’s vaccine website and a very limited number of vaccine buses make that age-specific vaccine available.

“Even when they first came out with the original [vaccine] back this summer, we called his pediatrician right away and they didn’t have any for over a month there," she said.  "We had to find one of the Colorado vaccination buses and drive out to Greeley to get them vaccinated this summer... I don’t know why that is. The adult vaccinations are really easy to get but the children's ones have been a bit more difficult. I wonder if that contributed to not as many kids being vaccinated because it’s kind of hard.”

To figure out why parents have had a difficult time finding locations that make the vaccine available, 9NEWS reached out to the Colorado Department of Public and Environment (CDPHE) to answer some questions. 

Editor's Note: Responses may have been edited for context and/or clarity.

9NEWS: Is there a reason why there’s such limited appointment availability when it comes to this particular age group? Does it have to do with inventory?

CDPHE: The CDC approved COVID-19 omicron vaccines for children 6 months though 4 years old on December 9, 2022.

The State and providers across Colorado pre-ordered 49,400 doses for the first wave of availability for these vaccines, including 33,300 doses of Pfizer and 16,100 doses of Moderna. We have a sufficient supply of both Pfizer and Moderna omicron vaccine products for this youngest age group and vaccine appointments will become more readily available in the weeks to come. Vaccine providers may have more limited appointment availability over the holidays.

There are parents that want to get their kid boosted ahead of the holidays, what is your message to those struggling to get an appointment?

Many providers are taking appointments for this age group. Parents and guardians can ask their child’s health care provider if they offer omicron vaccines in their office. 

They can also find an omicron vaccine appointment for their younger child by:

Some providers, such as retail pharmacies, only take vaccine appointments for children aged 3 years and older so physicians will play an even bigger role in this phase of the country’s largest-ever vaccination campaign.

Children in this age group are recommended to receive an omicron vaccine after receiving two doses of the original COVID-19 vaccines. The omicron vaccine must be the same brand as the vaccines they previously received. As of Dec.18, there were approximately 34,576 children in this youngest age group eligible for an omicron vaccine in Colorado.


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