D.C. sees a smooth start to toddler vaccinations

For D.C. parents who want them, finding a COVID-19 dose for their toddler has proved fairly successful in the first days of availability.

Why it matters: Many D.C. parents have been waiting for what might have seemed like an eternity for these vaccines, and now may be pleasantly surprised at how frictionless the experience is.

Yes, but: Health officials do not expect a rush for vaccines in young children, which may be making the vaccine search easier for parents.

  • For example, the vaccination rate among D.C. children 5-11, the age group just above toddlers, has hovered just over 40%.

By the numbers: 681 children under the age of five were vaccinated against COVID at D.C.’s public sites on the first day the vaccine was available, DC Health says. The District has just over 44,000 children under the age of five.

  • Of those doses, 571 were Moderna and 110 were Pfizer. Moderna’s course is just two doses as opposed to Pfizer’s three.

What they’re saying: Parents who sought vaccines at D.C.’s COVID Centers this week told Axios the process was smooth.

  • Outside a COVID center on U Street, D.C. resident Eileen Nowaln breathed a sigh of relief as she strapped her newly vaccinated toddler into her bike seat.
  • “It feels fantastic,” she said. “We’re gonna travel, we’re gonna see family. We’re going to have play dates.”

Kate Anderson was able to get her 21-month-old in and out of a COVID center Tuesday in Congress Heights, even with a visit from President Biden.

  • She praised DC Health for thinking ahead on the required 15-minute post-vaccine wait.
  • To make the time go quicker, children received a goodie bag with a coloring book, stuffed animal, stress ball, and even a onesie decorated with Band-Aids in the shape of Superman’s logo.

The big picture: Despite health officials urging that parents seek vaccinations at their doctor’s office, early experiences this week suggest that for many parents — especially those with kids under 3 — the public sites are a good way to go. And the sites are open all week, including weekends.

  • Many pharmacies in the D.C. region cannot vaccinate children under the age of three. For example, Grubb’s Pharmacy, which has maintained a robust vaccination program, requires a prescription to vaccinate children under the age of three.

It was confusion about where to get a prescription for her one-year-old that led D.C. resident Annie Selak to bring her children to a COVID center at Gallery Place, which only requires proof of residency.

  • But not until after she had reached out to listservs and Facebook groups of other moms hunting down vaccines to ask where to go.
  • Selak wrote in a message to Axios that she felt frustrated with the initial hunt for shots, saying she felt left in the dark by DC Health until she’d reached other parents for help.

“I worry that, once again, vaccine access will be primarily for those with privilege,” she wrote.

Read about where to get your toddler vaccinated in the D.C. area.

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