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Colorado aims to vaccinate ages 5 to 11 by end of January

October 28, 2021 GMT

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced a goal to vaccinate half of 5-to-11-year-old children in the state with a single COVID-19 dose by the end of January, as federal officials are expected to approve the age group for vaccines in the coming days.

Polis made the announcement Thursday at a news conference with state health officials who described the safety of the children’s vaccine trials and the state’s plans for the pediatric rollout.

The federal government has allocated an initial 171,000 doses of the pediatric vaccine to Colorado, which will be enough to vaccinate 30% of the children’s population with a single dose, said Diana Herrero, deputy director for the state health department’s Division of Disease Control and Public Health Response.

There are nearly 480,000 children in this age group in Colorado, Herrero said.

Pediatric vaccines will be available at more than 380 clinic locations statewide. The state has also partnered with different organizations to hold November and December vaccine events where they will offer pediatric doses, adult doses and booster shots, Herrero said.

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Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is a third of the dose given to teens and adults. A study of the kid-size dose found two shots given three weeks apart proved nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection with only mild temporary side effects — such as sore arms, fever or achiness.

The full-strength shots occasionally cause an extremely rare side effect, heart inflammation, that occurs mostly in young men and teen boys after the second dose. There’s no way to tell if the smaller doses for younger kids might trigger the rare side effect.

Polis said the state is offering all school districts partnerships with the state to host on-site vaccine clinics where they can get parent permission slips and inoculate their student populations.

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Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.