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Central Indiana parents say it's hard to find pediatric booster vaccines

Virus Outbreak-Boosters
Posted at 8:41 PM, Jun 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 20:41:16-04

INDIANAPOLIS — In May, a COVID booster shot was approved for American children ages 5-11, but Hoosier parents told WRTV it is not the easiest to find.

Dr. Aziz Pharmacy in Castleton has the COVID-19 booster shot for kids ages 5-11, but Kurt Moyer, Vice President of Clinical Operations with Dr. Aziz, said he has heard of issues finding the shot elsewhere.

“We have patients almost every day. Adults that had appointments scheduled somewhere else and then they went to go get their vaccination and when they get there, they’re told, 'oh we don’t have it,'” Moyer said.

Currently, a booster shot appointment for those ages 5-11 is not an option on the state’s vaccine scheduling portal. A spokesperson tells WRTV they are working on that, and in the meantime ask parents to choose a second dose appointment instead. The state also says they are not experiencing any vaccine shortages.

In an email response, an Indiana Department of Health spokesperson wrote:

“The registration site will be updated soon to allow individuals to select a booster appointment. In the meantime, they can schedule a second dose appointment that will be changed to a booster by the provider at the time of the visit. Those seeking a booster dose can also call 211 for assistance scheduling an appointment or visit a site accepting walk-ins. “

Both Walgreens and CVS tell WRTV the pediatric vaccine and booster are available at select locations.

“[For] the initial launch of the 5-11, we’re pretty much booked solid for those time slots. Months after that, it slowly became less and less,” Moyer said.

Moyer believes interest in the COVID vaccine for this age group is just not there. Since approval of the booster in May for 5-11 year olds, Moyer notes one patient at the pharmacy got it.

“Those who wanted to be vaccinated — those were the ones that came out right in the beginning,” Moyer said.

According to the state vaccine dashboard, 21% of 5-11 year old Hoosiers eligible for the shot are fully vaccinated and 1% in that age group are boosted.

WRTV reporter Nikki DeMentri asked: “When you hear those numbers, what’s running through your head as a physician?”

Dr. Christopher Belcher with Ascension St. Vincent responded: “It’s still an awful lot of kids who have [the] potential to get sick with COVID and although the complications are less common in kids and they can be rare, they can be severe.”

Moyer added low booster numbers in part may be a timing issue. The Pfizer vaccine for this age group was approved in November and booster recommendations are five months after completing the initial series.

Both medical experts want to see COVID vaccine numbers in kids 5-11 improve.

“We get these back-to-school checks that happen in the summer and fall as we get closer to school season. It’s a good time to be in the provider's office, there’s an increase in COVID, so I think that’s the way that a lot of them are going to happen,” Belcher said.