How to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for kids 5-11 in Story County
The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to U.S. children as young as 5 years old, and Story County medical providers are taking appointments.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the final approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 shot for children ages 5 to 11 — a third of the dose given to people over 12.
Families can schedule COVID-19 appointments for their children through McFarland Clinic, Story County Public Health, Hy-Vee and other providers. For full details, see the list below.
The Ames Tribune spoke with Dr. Brandon McNew, a McFarland Clinic pediatrician, about why younger children should get the coronavirus vaccine, what to expect after the shot and how vaccinating kids is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Kids should still get vaccinated, even if they're at a lower risk for severe COVID-19
While it's true that most children infected with coronavirus have only mild symptoms, scientists and health officials still recommend vaccination to prevent infections.
McNew said that children "can certainly still be a source of infection, particularly for adults, which ... is really the main population that's still dying from this disease."
"Only through vaccinating kids can we really continue to make strides to better prevent the spread of this illness," McNew said.
Another reason to get vaccinated is to lower the risk of MIS-C, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a condition linked to COVID-19 that can inflame the heart, lungs, kidney, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.
Within four to six weeks after a COVID-19 infection, there is a "very delicate window" when doctors are watchful for MIS-C, McNew said.
The vaccine is safe, mild side effects are normal
The vaccine is "incredibly safe," and the risk of complications from COVID-19 itself are "much higher" than those associated with the vaccine.
A clinical trial conducted by Pfizer and BioNTech found the vaccine was 90.7% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 in younger children, and the most common side effects were pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache and muscle aches.
There were no cases of myocarditis reported in the study, although it was not large enough to pick up such a rare complication, the company said. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle.
Wait 90 days after COVID-19 infection recovery to get vaccinated
McNew said that McFarland Clinic is holding off on vaccinating children who have had COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
In the weeks following a coronavirus infection, children are at a heightened risk for developing MIS-C.
"We wouldn't want to necessarily make that process worse if (MIS-C) were to happen by giving them a vaccine," McNew said. "Because then, it's recruiting the immune system to create an antibody response against inflammation that may already be occurring (due to the infection)."
Even if a child has had COVID-19 before, they should still get vaccinated, McNew said.
"(Natural immunity) wanes over time," McNew said. "Although they've had COVID ... it's still important to get the vaccine to where they can build additional immunity and keep themselves protected for longer."
COVID-19 shot and flu shot can be given at the same time
Children can be vaccinated for COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, McNew said.
"At this point time, we don't have any reason to think that there would be any complications from giving them at the same time," McNew said. "These vaccines have been proven to be effective given together (to people over age 12)."
Vaccinating kids is key to ending the pandemic
McNew said he wished he had an "optimistic projection on when this whole COVID nightmare will end."
"But at this point, the only way to get that to a close is to help protect the rest of our population who isn't immunized and prevent the spread from all angles," McNew said.
While kids aren't the majority of patients testing positive for COVID-19 at McFarland Clinic, "it's still happening," he said.
"What frustrates me is that some kids who are right now testing positive have been to school for the last two to three weeks and not wearing masks, and they've shared that COVID experience with the other members of the classroom," McNew said. "The best thing that we can do as a community is to protect ourselves so we can protect each other."
How to schedule a vaccine for your child in Story County
- Schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 and/or influenza vaccine online at vaccine.mcfarlandclinic.com.
- 1215 Duff Avenue Office - 515-239-4431
- Family Medicine East Office at 1018 Duff Ave - 515-663-8621
- For a full list of locations, visit mcfarlandclinic.com/doctors/locations.
Story County Public Health
- Call 1-800-945-8563 to schedule an appointment.
- Schedule an appointment online at mgmc.org/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/.
- Schedule an appointment online at hy-vee.com/my-pharmacy/vaccine-consent.
- For assistance in scheduling your vaccination, call 888-330-3307.
- 2719 Grand Ave. - 515-232-8284
- Check dose availability and schedule an appointment at walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid/19/landing.
Story County Medical Center
- Currently, Story Medical is only giving the pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to its own patients, spokesperson Loni Pringnitz told the Ames Tribune. Parents or guardians can call their local clinic to make an appointment for their child.
- Story Medical Clinic, Maxwell - 515-387-8815
- Story Medical Clinic, Nevada - 515-382-5413
Ames Community School District
- The school district in Ames is hosting a vaccination clinic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday for children ages 5 to 11. Second doses will be administered at the same appointment times on Saturday, Dec. 4. Parents with children in elementary school or sixth grade were notified about the clinic via email from the district Monday, and 216 appointment spots were available, according to information shared Monday night by Kathi Arnold, Ames' health and wellbeing services supervisor. Questions about the clinic can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ames Tribune education reporter Phillip Sitter contributed to this story.