Michelle Hicks of St. Paul pushed her double stroller to the entrance of the Mall of America’s COVID-19 vaccination site on Wednesday after making sure she was on time for her 2:00 and 2:20 p.m. appointments. In the stroller were Ann and Michael, 23-month-old twins who only experienced life during the pandemic.
Wearing protective masks, they looked around curiously as they passed through the clinic, noticing the colorful balloons pinned to the walls. The song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen plays in the background, but it doesn’t drown out much the occasional crying of a newly vaccinated child.
Ann and Matthew were two of 250 children who received the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday at the MOA center. Children aged six months to five years are now allowed to get vaccinated against COVID-19 following a recent recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Center at the Mall of America is now open to this age group. There are 250 appointments per day available on the MOA website, and they are all booked for this week. Many parents try to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible.
“I WANT TO PROTECT THEM”
When vaccines were first introduced in 2021, most people were able to go about their daily lives to some extent. But that doesn’t apply to Hicks and her family.
“I was looking forward to their defense,” Hicks said.
When Michelle Hicks wanted to vaccinate her twins with the Pfizer vaccine, she initially had trouble getting an appointment. After trying unsuccessfully to get through her home clinic, Hicks heard about the MOA site and was immediately online. All appointments were booked, but after she refreshed her browser many times, a few places opened up.
Hicks and her husband work full-time in the office, and unvaccinated children make it difficult. Ann and Matthew’s daycare has been closed twice due to COVID-19 and it seems like they’re always running “endless” tests.
“Hopefully this puts an end to all of this,” Hicks said.
SIGN UP FOR RECORDING
Anna Wagner Schlip of St. Paul said she had similar problems getting her COVID-19 vaccination for her 14-month-old son Leroy. Unable to find answers to his questions from his pediatrician, Shlip managed to make an appointment through the vaccination center at the Brooklyn Center, operated by Hennepin County.
After Leroy received his first dose of Moderna on Tuesday, Schlip felt both relieved and frustrated. Relieved that he can now be more protected from the virus and disappointed that it took so long.
“All this time he didn’t have the level of protection that we have,” Schlip said.
Once Leroy is fully vaccinated, Schlip hopes to take him to the state fair.
“We live very close to it, so we were very excited to go there last year,” Schlip said. “But we didn’t feel comfortable doing it.”
Now she can.
Initial demand for vaccines in this age group was expected to be high, and it was.
While the MOA site is one option for parents, Minnesota’s network of healthcare providers, made up primarily of large medical systems, pediatricians, local clinics and pharmacies, will administer most COVID-19 vaccines to children aged 6 months to 5 years. Vaccine shipments are expected to reach suppliers in Minnesota in waves over the next week.
“Parents now have the choice to vaccinate our youngest children against COVID-19 with a safe and effective vaccine,” Dr. Nathan Chomilo, a pediatrician at Nicolet Park and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, said in a written letter. Statement from the Minnesota Department of Health.
Parents can now book their Pfizer vaccine appointment online at the Mall of America by going to my.primary.health/r/vaxmn.
The Mall of America Vaccination Center is open Wednesday through Friday from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. An MOA appointment is required, although some other clinics allow entry.
Suppliers can be found using the Vaccine Finder map, which will be updated as vaccines become available in Minnesota. Parents can also visit mn.gov/vaxforkids for more information. Initially, the number of meetings may be limited.