Families planning COVID vaccinations for youngest children in hopes of full immunity by fall

It’s been about two weeks since the pediatric vaccines became available in Washington State and families are making progress in securing appointments for their youngest children.

Jonathan Cats from Seattle’s Greenlake neighborhood booked an appointment for his son Henry, who is two years old.

"For kids that are under three, it’s really, really hard because you can’t take them to like Costco or any of the pharmacies," said Cats. "You basically have to take them to a hospital, like UW or Kaiser or basically a clinic that’s running specifically for kids under three."

Henry’s appointment is this weekend through Kaiser Permanente.

"One of the big reasons wasn’t just for his health and safety because it’s obviously a big part, but also schools are going to be requiring it," said Cats. "We want to get him a COVID vaccine so it’s not disruptive to his day, and our work schedules are another important factor."

Cats said now that the pediatric vaccine is available, children who may become exposed to COVID-19 at their son’s daycare this fall would be able to return to class with a negative test if they are vaccinated.

"It is a sigh of relief for them to be able to be part of that kind of ‘community immunity,’" said Cats. "To have that herd immunity together, and maybe help us turn another corner in this pandemic. Kids are very resilient, and we feel very confident in the safety of the vaccines."

State health officials reported that in early June, infants and toddlers had the highest case rates amongst children and youth in Washington state, which was about 418 per 100,000 population.

Seattle-King County Public Health is advising families to first check with their pediatricians, as many of them are giving the shots themselves.

Daniel Tanner’s family is visiting Seattle from Germany and said they may get their 5-year-old son, Camden, vaccinated during this trip as vaccines are not yet available for this age group in Germany.

"The vaccine in Germany was a lot further behind than in America, so when I visited America from Germany, I got the vaccine here," said Tanner. "We’re here for four weeks, we might be able to get it done tomorrow and then get the other shot, so we’ll see. I feel safer sending him to school and having him mixing amongst kids, so when he does get COVID, the symptoms are less."

Meanwhile, some parents just aren’t ready to get their little ones vaccinated, but said they may reconsider in the future.

"There’s not enough information yet for that group, which is kind of like a sensitive group still when they’re still kind of growing and everything," said Carol Bravo, mom of a 5-year-old and one-year-old.

Click here to visit Seattle-King County’s page on finding a vaccine appointment.

Families can also search on the WA Vaccine locator page.