A vaccine clinic in Springfield. (Photo: Health Department)

Parents of young children who are newly able to receive COVID-19 vaccines are being asked to schedule appointments with their pediatricians rather than with the health department. 

“The (Springfield-Greene County) Health Department does not currently administer any vaccines to children six months to 4 years old, so we’re encouraging parents to call their pediatricians for more information on getting their child vaccinated against COVID-19,” spokesman Aaron Schekorra said in an email to the Daily Citizen. “Where there are logistical reasons for this, we recognize that parents, babies and younger children will be more comfortable getting vaccinated in a traditional health care setting with a physician they trust. Therefore, we are encouraging parents to seek the vaccination through their existing pediatrician or to get established with a provider if they have not already.”

The health department website offers a map of area vaccine clinics that are searchable by age of the patients they serve, and the map now includes pediatric doses as a category. The map, available at this link, will be updated as the health department learns of pharmacies that are also offering pediatric doses of the vaccine.

“As we distribute vaccines for the pediatric population, storage and logistics issues make the retail pharmacy model the best approach,” said Cary Nabors, CoxHealth spokeswoman. “Retail pharmacies have capacity to manage the complex storage requirements – including multiple vaccines with different refrigeration standards – whereas individual clinics do not. In addition, vaccines cannot be stored overnight in a clinic, according to state regulations.”

Nabors added that the CoxHealth team is encouraging parents to consult with their child’s doctor to address any questions they have about the vaccine.

On June 17, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that emergency approval had been granted to administer Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccines to patients as young as 6 months old. For ages 6 months to 4, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires three doses as opposed to the two doses administered to ages 5 and up. The Moderna vaccine remains a two-dose primary process. 

“As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a news release. “Those trusted with the care of children can have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of these COVID-19 vaccines and can be assured that the agency was thorough in its evaluation of the data.” 

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson