Here's why COVID vaccines for young children may be hard to find right now

An eight month old, baby sits
Griffin Becher sits on the lap of her mother, Stephanie Becher, and gets a sticker to receive after receiving her first dose of the COVID at the Mall of America vaccination site on June 22.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News 2022

There are widespread delays in the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain from both Pfizer and Moderna. Previously, the federal government bought and distributed vaccine supply.

According to the Associated Press, health systems now must go through Pfizer or Moderna directly for COVID vaccines. And that has led to backlogs and slow shipments. 

According to Health Partners Park Nicollet pediatrician Andrea Singh, the vaccines for children have been the slowest to arrive, making appointments scarce at some clinics and pharmacies. 

“So depending on the system that you're in, some systems might not even be scheduling appointments right now, other systems might be scheduling in the hopes that they get it, but there may be some variability,” Singh said.

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Susan Raverty has been personally feeling the supply chain issues with her 10 and seven-year-old children. She wants them to get the flu shot and the COVID booster together, which Singh recommends, but while she’s able to find the flu shot she’s had no luck with the COVID booster.

“I kinda thought since we have the flu shot every year, and like the infrastructure for offering that every year … that COVID would kind of be part of that now. And it's not,” Raverty said.

Some pharmacies have age minimums to receive vaccines, so young children may not be able to get their booster there. Raverty said she’s tried various clinics and her pediatric office and none have the COVID booster available for October.

“Every website looks like they have the kid version,” Raverty said. “And so you go through the whole process of scheduling it, and then you get to the end and they go ‘oh, actually we don't have it.’”

Raverty and her husband were able to get their COVID and flu shots easily and she wants her kids to have it so they can be safe at school.

Another challenge to getting children their COVID vaccines is that the CDC does not recommend young children to mix the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines due to the FDA Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 vaccines for kids.

In a statement, the Minnesota Department of Health said it is okay for young children to mix doses if there is nothing else available. However, some providers may choose to stick to the CDC’s recommendation.

Singh said she and other providers hopeful supply issues for the vaccine will be resolved within the next month. In the meantime, she advises parents to keep an eye out for appointments and to not be too discouraged by cancellations.