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By the Minnesota Council of Health Plans and the Minnesota Hospital Association

Just in time for the kids’ holiday break, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has formally recommended the COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 5.

The added protection comes at a crucial time as most schools are back to in-person learning and millions of families are preparing for holiday travel and festive gatherings. By choosing to get your children vaccinated – which is free of charge, regardless of your insurance status – you:

  • Reduce the risk of the child transmitting the virus to older, more vulnerable adults.
  • Help schools continue to teach in person.
  • Reduce the risk of your own child getting sick and being hospitalized due to COVID. According to the CDC, 2 million children ages 5-11 have been infected with COVID and more than 8,300 have been hospitalized nationally.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which gave the authorization for the shot for kids 5-11, said data show no adverse effects on the children. The vaccine was also found to be nearly 91% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID in this age group.

In an effort to get shots in arms, health plans and health systems are updating their COVID-19 vaccine outreach with specific information for families about how to get their kids vaccinated in Minnesota. For example:

UCare launched a new telephone outreach effort, targeting unvaccinated families with updated COVID-19 vaccine information regarding kids and teens. New messaging and FAQs have also been added to the health plan’s website and social channels. UCare is also sponsoring a series of educational videos translated into multiple languages to reach more diverse Minnesota communities.

HealthPartners is using email and text messaging to encourage families to schedule their children’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment. The organization is also using social and traditional media to promote appointment scheduling and to answer frequently asked questions.

Medica is encouraging childhood and youth vaccinations with information in its member, employer and broker newsletters and on its social media channels. The organization also will provide updates in the COVID section on its website and is planning a targeted email campaign to families with children of relevant age.

Meanwhile, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota will utilize its blog as a source of vaccination info, as well as reach out to members via email to support youth COVID vaccinations.

The new vaccine is available in health clinics, doctors’ offices and major retail pharmacies, including Walgreens and CVS. Parents and kids are also heading to special COVID vaccine clinics being held at elementary schools, community centers – even the Mall of America where the State of Minnesota has created a community vaccination site.

If you have questions about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is right for your child, contact your child’s health care provider. Additionally, you can visit the State of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Response page to learn more about the vaccine for kids. To find vaccination providers near you, visit vaccines.gov.