MHF_Blog_COVID_vaccine_5-11
A child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on during a special M Health Fairview vaccination event in Minneapolis for families facing socioeconomic barriers to healthcare access.

News and Events, Health and Wellness, COVID 19

COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children ages 5-11 at M Health Fairview locations

Starting Monday, Nov. 8, families can schedule an appointment by logging in to MyChart, calling 612-336-2690, or calling a local Fairview pharmacy. Vaccines are also available for children and teens 12 and older.

  • November 08, 2021
  • By Staff Writer

M Health Fairview is now offering Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to children 5-11. Starting Monday, Nov. 8, you can book an appointment for your child by logging into your MyChart account, calling 612-336-2690, or contacting your local Fairview pharmacy. If you don’t have a MyChart account, you can create a new account here.

At this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine authorized for use for children ages 5-11. The Pfizer-BioNTech is also available for children and teens 12 years old and older. You do not have to be a current M Health Fairview patient to get the vaccine from us.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines, please review our frequently asked questions below. Check back often for updates and answers on this page. If you continue to have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, we encourage you to speak with your family’s primary care provider.

How can my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?

M Health Fairview currently offers three options for children to get a vaccine, including appointments at our retail pharmacies, appointments at our four vaccine hub sites, and appointments at some primary care clinics. You do not have to be a current M Health Fairview patient to get the vaccine from us. Scroll down for more information about each option.

In addition, our care providers may offer the vaccine for your child at unrelated, previously scheduled clinic and well-child appointments.

  1. Appointments at most retail pharmacies. Our retail pharmacies are now scheduling appointments for children ages 5 and older. Please call your nearest pharmacy to set up a vaccination appointment.

  2. Appointments at a vaccine hub site.
    Vaccines are available for all eligible patients age 5 and older at the following hub sites. To schedule an appointment for your child or teen at a hub site listed below please log onto your MyChart account or call 612-336-2690, option 1. 

    Parents planning vaccinations for their children should be aware that the hub sites have a different look and feel than a well-child appointment at one of our primary care clinics. Please note the following considerations for choosing the appropriate venue:

    • The hubs are designed to accommodate many patients; you and your child may have to wait in line with other patients of all ages.
    • Privacy options may vary at the hub sites, and individual rooms are not guaranteed.

  3. Appointments at some primary care locations.
    Some M Health Fairview primary care clinics have the COVID-19 vaccine available for children ages 5 and older. To schedule an appointment at one of our clinics, log into your MyChart account or call 612-336-2690. If you don’t have a MyChart account, you can create a new account here.

    Select primary care clinics will also have the COVID-19 vaccine available for patients during previously scheduled appointments. Please ask your provider about the options during your visit.

What should I expect at my child’s COVID-19 vaccine appointment?

You and your child will be greeted by a healthcare professional who is an experienced vaccinator. They will ask you some basic questions regarding your child’s health and will also ask you to complete a vaccine consent form for your child. 

The COVID-19 vaccine will be injected into child’s upper arm, so please ensure your child is wearing a short-sleeved shirt or other vaccine-appropriate clothing. After your child receives a first dose, our healthcare workers will help your family schedule a follow-up appointment for a second dose. The vaccinator will fill out your child’s vaccine card for you to take with you. Please bring that same card back for your child’s second dose.

After receiving the vaccination, you and your child will be asked to wait nearby for a 15-minute observation period to monitor your child for immediate adverse reactions.

If you child has a history of allergic reactions to a vaccine, your family will be asked to wait nearby for a 30-minute observation period. Our vaccinators are prepared to respond to reactions during the observation time. They will have access to EpiPens and guidance on how to care for individuals experiencing reactions.

All parents or legal guardians of children younger than age 18 will need to give consent in order for their child or children to receive the vaccine. You can complete the vaccine consent form at your appointment or fill it out ahead of time and bring it to your appointment. Find the consent formhere. It is also available in the following languages: 

ArabicAmharicChineseHmongKarenOromoRussianSomaliSpanish, and Vietnamese.

If a parent or legal guardian is unable to attend to the vaccine appointment, the form may be printed, signed, and brought by another person to the appointment. Parents or guardians may also give verbal consent over the phone at the time of vaccination if they are unable to be present and could not complete a form in advance.

Children ages 5-17 must receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Please also review the vaccine fact sheet for more details about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Other languages available here.

How many doses of the vaccine does my child need?

Children need two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with the second dose typically scheduled 21 days after the first dose.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 5-11 is one third of the vaccine dose that adults receive. This smaller size was chosen to minimize side effects while still activating a strong immune response. Even though the doses are smaller, all children receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will still need two shots. The vaccines do not provide immediate immunity. Though the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing COVID-19 hospitalization and death, it will take time for your child’s immune system to build defenses after your child receives a full two doses of the vaccine.

Will insurance cover the COVID-19 vaccine?

We are not charging for the COVID-19 vaccine itself at this time. We do charge, however, for the administration of the vaccine. The charge for the first administration or a single-dose vaccine is $44. The charge for the second administration is $74. Your insurance will be billed for administering the vaccine and covered by insurance companies with no out of pocket costs to the patient. 

Is the vaccine safe for children?

For decades, vaccines have been important tools in our fight against diseases, including the flu, measles, polio, and chicken pox, among others. While we have made some progress in the fight against COVID-19 with public health measures like masking and social distancing, widespread vaccination is the only way that we can stop the pandemic. Not only does getting the vaccine protect your child against severe illness from COVID-19, it also reduces the chances that they will spread it to others, including your family and friends. 

On Oct. 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in children 5-11 years of age. On Nov. 2, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) also recommended the vaccine. This follows similar authorization for emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine among children and teens 12 years old and older.

“Over 2,000 children ages 5-11 were involved in the Pfizer-BioNTech clinical trial,” said M Health Fairview Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician Beth Thielen, MD, PhD. “We also have very positive safety data from the over 15 million American children ages 12 and older who have received the vaccine.”

Thielen added that the dosage for younger children is lower than for older children and adults. A lower dose in children 5 to 11 was shown to be offer the same protection as a higher dose in older children and adults.

“Overall, risk of side effects from the vaccine is much smaller than the risk of serious complications from COVID-19,” said Thielen.

Why should my child get a COVID-19 vaccine?

While we have made some progress in the fight against COVID-19 with public health measures like masking and social distancing, widespread vaccination is the only way that we can stop the pandemic. Not only does getting the vaccine protect your child against severe illness from COVID-19, it also reduces the chances that your will spread it to others, including your family members and friends. 

Children also make up a growing percentage of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota.

“There are several possible reasons for this,” M Health Fairview Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician Beth Thielen, MD, PhD. “Many adults are vaccinated and better protected against COVID-19. Meanwhile, schools have opened back up. The delta variant is more contagious. We’re seeing a lot more children hospitalized now than at any other point in the pandemic.”

Data on breakthrough COVID-19 cases – when a fully-vaccinated person becomes ill – show the difference vaccination makes. Only 5 percent of Minnesotans ages 12-17 who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since May were fully vaccinated.

“We’re still in the middle of a big wave of COVID-19 infections in Minnesota,” said Thielen. “Now is not the time to wait to get your child vaccinated. Even a few weeks of waiting could make a big impact, because the risk of exposure is currently so high.”

What are the side effects?

You child may have some side effects after getting vaccinated. This is a normal sign that your child’s body is building protection. These side effects include injection site soreness and mild to moderate flu-like side effects – including a headache, fatigue, chills, fever, and muscle and joint soreness. Most of these symptoms typically end three days after the vaccine, or earlier.

Cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell are not side effects of the vaccine. If your child experiences these symptoms, monitor their symptoms to see if they become worse and seek the advice of your healthcare provider if they do. While it’s not possible to get COVID-19 from any of vaccines, your child may have been exposed to the virus before receiving your vaccine.

Learn more about COVID-19 symptoms.

How do the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine work?

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine does not use live or weakened versions of the coronavirus causing COVID-19. Instead, this vaccine has genetic material called mRNA or “messenger RNA” that is taken from the virus. Once injected, this material tricks our bodies into producing a protein unique to the virus. When our immune systems detect this protein, they then create cells that recognize and destroy it. These immune system cells remain in our bodies for long periods, giving us protection against the virus.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine comes in two doses. People receiving this vaccine will need a second dose 21 days after the first. Both doses are important to ensure full protection.

Can my child get COVID-19 from the vaccines? Do any of them use a live virus?

It is not possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines use only genetic material from the coronavirus causing COVID-19.

What if my child misses the second dose of the vaccine?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is not fully effective unless your child receives both doses. The first dose of the vaccine triggers your immune system response and the second dose completes the process so that you have the best-possible protection.

You do not need to repeat the series if your child’s second dose is delayed. Instead, just reschedule the second dose as soon as possible. Please visit one of our retail pharmacies to receive your second dose if you missed your previously scheduled second dose.

Can my child get a second dose at an M Health Fairview location if I got my first dose elsewhere?

Yes, M Health Fairview will provide the second dose of the same vaccine if the patient has a vaccine card from their first dose.

Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if my child has had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines?

If your child has ever had an allergic reaction to any ingredient that is in a COVID-19 vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you should not get that vaccine. If you experienced an allergic reaction after the first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, you should not receive a second dose of that vaccine.

If your child has had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injections and are unsure, the CDC recommends checking with your doctor before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

What should I do if I my child has an adverse or allergic reaction to the vaccine?

Your child may have some side effects after getting vaccinated. The side effects may feel like the flu and may last for a few days. These side effects are normal and are signs that the body is building protection from the virus.

There is a very small chance that the vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction – often within a few minutes to one hour after getting the vaccine. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the face and throat
  • A fast heartbeat
  • A bad rash all over your child’s body
  • Dizziness and weakness

If you think your child is having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the place where you received the vaccine, seek immediate medical care by calling 911. If redness or tenderness around the area where your child got the shot increases after 24 hours, if your child’s side effects are worrying you, or if the side effects not seem to be going away after a few days – call our Fairview Nurse Advisors line at 1-855-324-7843.

Visit this CDC website for more information about what to expect after the COVID-19 vaccine, or consider downloading and using the CDC’s smartphone app, V-safe After Vaccine Health Checker, to track and report side effects, receive personalized health checks, and get second dose reminders. The CDC recommends patients and providers report adverse or allergic reactions to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

If my child has had COVID-19 should they get the vaccine?

Yes. People who get COVID-19 produce antibodies that offer some protection against the virus, but the COVID-19 vaccine offers more protection than natural immunity. Natural immunity alone is less than half as effective as natural immunity plus vaccination. Research has found that natural immunity also fades faster than vaccine immunity, and one-third of people who get COVID-19 never develop protective antibodies or immunity.

“The general recommendation is that everyone should be vaccinated regardless of whether or not they’ve had COVID-19 history,” said M Health Fairview Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician Beth Thielen, MD, PhD.

Does my child need to continue wearing a mask after getting the vaccine?

Yes. Everyone should wear face masks, wash their hands frequently, practice social distancing, and take other safety steps until the number of COVID-19 cases nationwide is no longer at pandemic levels.

Should my child be tested for COVID-19 prior to receiving the vaccine?

No, your child does not need to get a COVID-19 diagnostic or antibody test before getting the vaccine.

What about breakthrough infections? Why should my child get a vaccine if it’s still possible to get COVID-19?

Like other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines are not 100 percent effective, and there is a small chance someone who is fully vaccinated may still get a breakthrough case of COVID-19. In Minnesota as of Nov. 1, only 57,023 breakthrough cases have been reported among the roughly 3.2 million people fully vaccinated, a rate of roughly 1.78 percent.

However, the chances for a severe infection, hospitalization, or death are much lower for vaccinated people. If a vaccinated person gets COVID-19, the symptoms are likely to be less severe than in an unvaccinated person. Current studies show that vaccinated adults are five times less likely to get infected and 10 times less likely to experience hospitalization or death, according to the CDC.

People who get breakthrough infections can spread COVID-19 to others. Studies are underway to find out how contagious people who have a breakthrough infection are, and for how long. The delta variant is more contagious than previous kinds of COVID-19, but studies so far show that the vaccines used in the United States are still effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

People who are already immunocompromised because of another illness are at higher risk for a breakthrough case, even if fully vaccinated. The CDC recommends that they take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people until told otherwise by their doctor or healthcare professional.

What should I do if my child gets breakthrough COVID-19?

While breakthrough cases are rare, it’s important to get tested for COVID-19 if you or your child have been exposed to someone with the virus or if you are showing symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 in children vary, and can include fever, sore throat, nausea, and shortness of breath, among others.

“It’s also important to know that there are other illnesses going around right now. It’s flu season, and we’re still seeing a fair amount of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children,” said M Health Fairview Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician Beth Thielen, MD, PhD. “If you’re unsure what your child has, talk to your primary care provider and test them for COVID-19 and other diseases like the flu or RSV, as recommended by your doctor.”

Thielen added that people who have been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested five to seven days after the exposure and wear a mask indoors until they have a negative test. Anyone with symptoms should be tested as soon as possible. If your child has a confirmed breakthrough COVID-19 case, your primary care provider is a good first contact.

As a parent or guardian, can I also get the vaccine through M Health Fairview?

Yes, adults are current able to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine at one of our facilities. Learn more.

Are you offering the Moderna vaccine to children through a clinical trial?

Yes, the Moderna vaccine is available for children six months to 12 years old as part of a nationwide clinical trial. Learn more about the trial here.