- CVS and Walgreens say they are accepting appointments for COVID vaccines for children ages 5 -11 after CDC made them eligible on Tuesday.
- Appointments will begin Saturday at CVS and Walgreens. Rite Aid is expected to follow suit.
- Health experts say that children are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading it, though they are less likely than older people to die from it.
The major drug store chains – widely expected to play a crucial role in administering COVID-19 vaccines to children – are poised to begin inoculating kids within days.
CVS and Walgreens, the two largest chains in the country, said Wednesday morning that they are now accepting appointments for COVID vaccines for children ages 5 through 11 after the CDC officially made them eligible on Tuesday. Ages 12 and up were already eligible.
Appointments will begin Saturday at Walgreens and no later than Sunday at CVS. Rite Aid, the third-largest chain, said it will begin accepting appointments on Thursday for slots starting Saturday.
Health experts say that children are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading it, though they are less likely than older people to die from it.
“As many families prepare to travel and gather for the holidays, and COVID-19 variants continue to emerge, individuals including children are at high risk to contract and spread COVID-19 and experience more severe symptoms,” Walgreens said in a statement.
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With the COVID vaccine rollout, the major chains are recommending that parents schedule appointments for their kids, who are newly eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.
Parents will need to provide their children’s date of birth to confirm they’re eligible. A parent or guardian will also need to be present for the shot.
Kids, like adults, can receive a flu shot and COVID shot during the same visit.
“Because the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine for children in this age group, patients are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment online at CVS.com or through the CVS App to ensure availability,” CVS spokesperson Joe Goode said in an email.
The scheduling tool will only display appointments at CVS Pharmacy locations that have the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine once the patient’s age is provided, he said.
Walgreens spokesperson Rebekah Pajak said in an email that “an appointment is highly encouraged.”
Pharmacies have administered more than one-third of COVID shots since the inoculation effort began less than a year ago, according to the CDC. In recent months, they have been struggling to keep pace with the demand for COVID vaccines, COVID tests and flu shots. USA TODAY reported last week that some pharmacies are turning away patients for walk-in flu shots due to worker shortages.
During the recommended 15-minute observation period after the COVID shot is administered, kids will have access to activity sheets and stickers at Walgreens. They will also be able to print a free 5-by-7 photo of their vaccination.
Tootsie Roll Industries also donated Tootsie Pops for distribution to kids who get a shot at Walgreens.
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