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

As parents send their children back to school, health care providers say it’s important to remember this point: while gains have been made in managing COVID-19, the virus continues to be a key public health issue.

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization of a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as six months. The Moderna vaccine is recommended for children six months to 17 years, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is for children six months to four years old. Health care providers and the CDC say it’s important to vaccinate children because kids who get COVID-19 can still get very sick.

But according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey 43% of parents with children in this age range say they will “definitely not” vaccinate them. So far, just 17% of parents have either gotten their children vaccinated for COVID in this age group or plan to do so.

Still the best
According to the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 vaccines are still the best way to avoid being hospitalized for the most serious infections or dying from the virus.

Another reason to get the vaccine, according to the CDC, is because children who get COVID-19 risk getting a “new, returning or ongoing health problems.” They also say getting vaccinated can help prevent them getting seriously ill if they do get infected — and help prevent serious short and long-term complications.

COVID-19 shots are also widely available. You can visit your regular doctor, or you can get it at most pharmacies, clinics and retail clinics and other locations. The State of Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector is another tool that helps Minnesotans find out when, where, and how to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Another great source of information is the CDC’s COVD-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens page.

Also remember that health plans cover the COVID-19 vaccine without charging members a copayment or coinsurance.

Talk with your doctor about getting your kids the COVID-19 vaccine as well as making sure they are up to date with their other immunizations. Staying healthy and protected against preventable illnesses will help ensure your child’s success!