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Montana kids under 5 could soon be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations

 COVID-19 vaccination record card.
COVID-19 vaccination record card.

The Montana state health department says it’s ordering COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5 years old ahead of the expected approval of the shots later this month.

Parents haven’t been able to vaccinate their kids under 5 years old against COVID-19, but federal regulators and health officials could approve two COVID vaccines for children 6 months and older later this month.

Montana state health department spokesperson Jon Ebelt says the state is ordering vaccines in anticipation of the approval, but didn’t say how many. He says providers could receive the vaccines by June 21, which is the earliest they could be administered following approval.

Access to the pediatric COVID vaccine for kids 5 to 12 years old has been an issue in remote areas of the state, like Sanders County, where the vaccine wasn’t available locally. That forced parents who wanted to vaccinate their kids to make long treks to find the nearest provider offering the vaccine.

Ebelt says the state health department is working to recruit more providers to offer vaccines in those communities. He adds that smaller ordering quantities of 100 shots should also make it easier for providers to work through doses before they expire.

The vaccination rate for kids under 12 in Montana sits at 19%, according to state data. That lags behind the national average of 29%, according to the Mayo Clinic. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey earlier this month found that about a fifth of parents plan to get their children younger than 5 vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.