COLORADO, USA — After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the go-ahead to give COVID-19 vaccines to millions of children, the U.S. opened up the vaccines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers on Saturday.
It was an announcement that pleased Dr. Ricardo González-Fisher of Servicios de la Raza.
"We are very happy, it is a great emotion to know that this vaccine has already been approved for use in a fifth of our population," González-Fisher said. "One in five people living in the United States fall into this age group, and it is one of the groups that are most vulnerable."
González-Fisher said that although there have not been many cases of serious illness among young children, about seven out of 10 children under the age of 5 have already been infected with the virus.
"This [vaccine] means an important advance to protect our little ones," he said.
By being sick, children can take the disease to their families and, in fact, "some of them have long-term complications," González-Fisher said.
Many parents might be hesitant to vaccinate their children, but González-Fisher said there is no difference between vaccines for children and adults.
"It's actually the same vaccine, just a different dose, he said. "The doses have been adjusted for the small size of their bodies."
He said there has not been a vaccine as closely monitored for its safety as these ones.
"It has already been shown that they are highly safe vaccines," he said. "Billions of doses have been applied worldwide, and I think after two years, we have enough evidence to talk about safety."
The two vaccines approved for children are Pfizer and Moderna, which are both available to children 6 months old and older:
- The Pfizer vaccine requires three doses. The first two doses are three weeks apart, and the third dose is eight weeks after the second one.
- With the Moderna vaccine, two doses are administered, three weeks apart.
Colorado received the vaccines for children under the of 5 on Monday, according to Vanessa Bernal, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). She said those will begin to be administered this week.
"Obviously we ask that you be patient because this distribution could take some time," Bernal said.
Bernal recommended that parents contact their health care provider beforehand to find out whether they have the vaccine available.
Coloradans can also visit the state website for a list of all providers offering the vaccine for young children. As the vaccine becomes more available through providers, that list will grow, Bernal said.
The vaccine will be available free of charge. Parents and guardians are entitled to paid time off from work to take their children to get vaccinated and help their kids recover from any post-vaccine side effects, Bernal said.
Servicios De La Raza, the state's largest nonprofit serving Latinos, continues to offer its vaccination clinic every Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the organization, which is located at 3131 W. 14th Ave.
From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays, they also have a mobile clinic at the Mexican Consulate, at 5350 Leetsdale Drive, Suite #100.
Appointments are not required at the Mexican Consulate but are recommended for the Tuesday clinic after hours. People can call Servicios de la Raza to make an appointment at (303) 458-5851.
No form of identification, Social Security number or health insurance is required to get vaccinated.
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