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Where Can You Find Vaccine Appointment for Kids 5-11?

A child receives a Pfizer vaccine in Fairfax, Virginia

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • In the rush to get kids vaccinated against COVID-19 before the holiday season, some families are having difficulty finding pediatric vaccine appointments.
  • Pfizer is shipping millions of doses, but it takes time to stock vaccine distribution sites with the child-specific vaccine. 
  • Vaccines are available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies, community- and school-based vaccine sites, and children’s hospitals around the country.

As soon as the 28 million children aged 5 to 11 became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, caregivers rushed to get their youngsters immunized.

While nearly 68% of Americans older than 12 are now fully vaccinated, many children and adolescents remain vulnerable to COVID-19. With the upcoming holiday season, some families are eager to get a vaccine appointment for their youngster.

About 900,000 children in this age group have already gotten the shot, with hundreds of thousands more awaiting their scheduled appointments, the NPR reported.

“There is frustration from parents who want to get their children vaccinated but they are having trouble finding an appointment,” Kara Sewalk, MPH, program manager for the Computational Epidemiology Lab at Boston Children's Hospital, told Verywell. “I do think that over the next couple of weeks we'll start to settle down a little bit. Vaccines will be a little bit more available to folks who are looking to get their children vaccinated.”

The White House had purchased 15 million Pfizer pediatric doses ahead of the authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on October 29.

A larger portion of eligible 12- to 17-year-olds had been vaccinated a week after the FDA authorization compared to the 5- to 11-year-olds, according to the NPR. However, adolescents receive the same dosage as adults, meaning vaccine providers could tap into existing inventory instead of having to order new doses.

How to Find an Available Appointment

Families can now find vaccination sites for their youngsters at Vaccines.gov. The site lists clinics and other locations that receive vaccines from their state authorities or the federal government. If a vaccination site is displayed, it means that it has vaccines in stock, Sewalk explained.

Vaccines.gov redirects users to book an appointment on the clinics’ or pharmacies’ webpages.

“Keep checking sites,” Sewalk said. “Appointments are going to be opening if you can't find any now.”

Some pediatricians, children’s hospitals, and other health systems are displayed if they have appointments open to the public. People hoping to have their child immunized at their doctor’s office should contact their health provider directly.

Vaccines for children are also available at major pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walmart. Not all locations offer shots for this age group yet, however, when booking an appointment on the CVS website, only the pharmacies that have a stock of pediatric vaccine will show up when people enter their child's age, according to Newton Walker, PharmD, district leader and pharmacist at CVS Pharmacy in Miami.

The pharmacy will prompt them to sign up for a second dose appointment as well.

“Following each first-dose vaccination, we also ensure that all children have a vaccination card and have scheduled a second shot,” Walker told Verywell in an email.

The regimen for children includes two shots of the Pfizer vaccine, spaced three weeks apart. Like adults and adolescents, they are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose.

Given the tight timeline between the FDA authorization and Thanksgiving, many children won’t be fully vaccinated in time for turkey dinner. But if they receive the first dose by November 19, they may complete the series in time for Christmas Eve and the first day of Kwanzaa. To be immunized by New Years, kids must get the first shot by November 26.

Getting at least one dose before traveling or gathering with others will provide some short-term immunity against COVID-19.

“I have a 10-year-old and we’re very excited that he’ll at least have gotten one dose of vaccine for Thanksgiving,” Kawsar Talaat, MD, vaccine expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said at a university panel last month.

She recommended minimizing risks for partially or unvaccinated children by wearing masks, checking the COVID-19 case rates in the area you plan to visit, and asking attendees to get tested before arriving.

Shots at Schools

In some states and cities, school districts and community-based organizations are also offering the shot for children. School clinics will be essential for children who don't have access to a regular pediatrician or health care, Talaat said.

This week, New York City began hosting one-day vaccination clinics at public schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District—the second-largest K-12 school system in the U.S.—deployed mobile vaccination teams. The district will begin running school-based clinics on November 16.

Nava Yeganeh, MD, MPH, a pediatrics and infectious disease specialist at University of California Los Angeles, has been supporting the LA Department of Health with its school-based vaccine clinics for more than a year.

She told Verywell that offering the vaccine at locations that families are already familiar with, and feel comfortable getting to, may increase vaccine uptake and equity of distribution.

“We found out early in the pandemic that schools are a trusted source of information,” Yeganeh said. “[Families] trust that their school is doing something that has been well vetted.”

Offering shots at smaller, trusted locations rather than mass vaccination sites allows families to ask questions of health providers.

What This Means For You

If you have a child who is newly eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, you can find a list of sites near you that offer the shot at Vaccines.gov.

Creating a Comfortable Environment

Younger children may experience a higher level of vaccine-related anxiety, Yeganeh said. School- and community-based clinics can be designed to create a comfortable environment for children their families. This includes offering games and activities to keep kids occupied during the observation period after the shot and while they’re waiting their turn.

“It's really hard to have a bunch of five-year-olds sit quietly for 15 minutes without any sort of entertainment,” she said.

Walker said that pharmacists at CVS make an effort to keep kids stay calm and distract them from the shot by cracking jokes, letting the kids blow bubbles, and rewarding them at the end.

“We want to make sure kids feel comfortable, so we stay engaged with them throughout the vaccination process to make sure it’s as smooth as possible,” Walker said. “Following the vaccination, we celebrate each child with great enthusiasm, telling them they are vaccine heroes and letting them pick out a band aid and sticker.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States. Updated November 10, 2021.

  2. CNET. How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment? What to know about scheduling for kids and adults. Published November, 2021.