Can Arizona parents find COVID-19 vaccines for their kids 5 and under?

Some parents say they're having difficulties finding a place that'll administer the COVID-19 vaccine to kids under 5 years old.
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 8:11 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Children 6 months to 5 years old can now get the COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA signed off on emergency use Friday and the CDC updated its recommendations during the weekend. But can you find the shot for this age group in Arizona? It turns out it hasn’t been easy for many parents.

Advocates on Twitter are trying to help parents figure out where to go. Part of the issue is federal, and government vaccine finder sites haven’t been updated, leaving families making cold calls to see where they can get their young kids vaccinated. Monday morning, Will Novak was scouring for vaccine appointments for his 4 and 1-year-old kids. “I checked, I think it’s called, but it’s currently not updated,” Novak said. “(Arizona Department of Health Services) same thing, there’s no ability to sort by under 5′s and some of AZDHS will list a place and I called them, and they said no we haven’t had them for some time.”

AZDHS told Arizona’s Family they had a data update Monday, which took away the option to find the vaccine for those aged kids, and their team was working on trying and getting that back up and running.

So, Novak tried something else. “I called our pediatrician who’s wonderful but they just don’t have a supply of them,” he said. Then he looked up Walgreens, whose site said they’re only offering vaccines to 3-year-olds and up starting Saturday. “My son is not quite 2 so I didn’t want to have to send my daughter to one place and find another appointment for my son,” Novak said. “There’s probably parents trying to figure this out that have all morning been wasting time on the phone and trying to figure out how to get their kids the vaccine.”

Novak put the question out on Twitter: where can he get both his kids vaccinated? Kara Karlson responded. “I knew where to go on terms of going to Pleasant Pediatrics because they’ve been on the ball since the very beginning,” said Karlson.

Karlson is part of a group called “Immunize Under 5,″ made up of parent and pediatrician advocates for getting young kids vaccinated. She has an at-risk 3-year-old daughter herself, so she was eager to find a solution. Pleasant Pediatrics has six clinics in the Phoenix area but most are in the West Valley and one is in the East Valley. There are plenty of appointments available.

Your child doesn’t have to be an existing patient. You can just click the button to sign up for a vaccine, pick the location, and pick whether you want your child to get the first dose of Moderna or Pfizer. That’s where Novak ended up getting his kids an appointment. “It’s great when these other parents can point you in the right direction because they’ve been following this and know more,” said Novak.

“I’m everywhere on Twitter. There are other people who are out there who are willing to help too,” said Karlson. Karlson said the most difficult age group to find vaccines for right now is 6 months to 18 months. While Walgreens is only vaccinating 3 years old and up, starting Tuesday, CVS is vaccinating 18 months and up.

Karlson said the reason they can do that is that they have “minute clinics” with people who can specialize in vaccinating younger kids. It’s always best to first check with your pediatrician’s office, too, to see if they’re offering it for kids 6 months and older.