A pair of gloved hands preparing a vaccine
Vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 will be widely available in the next few days, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Motoya Nakamura / Multnomah County

Kids ages 5 to 11 in Oregon are able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 starting today, according to Governor Kate Brown. While shipments of the youth vaccines are currently arriving to pharmacies and local doctors, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) notes it may take a few days before the vaccine is widely available to children.

“Your child should be able to be vaccinated within the next few weeks,” said OHA director Patrick Allen in a statement ahead of Wednesday’s approval. “It is extremely important that all eligible children have equitable access to the vaccine and we appreciate your patience as we go through this process.”

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup—the panel of experts who guide Oregon’s immunization decisions—approved Pfizer’s vaccine for children between ages 5 and 11 Wednesday. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the vaccine last week, citing the vaccine’s 91 percent effectiveness at preventing COVID infection in children.

Pfizer’s youth vaccine is two doses, administered three weeks apart. The children’s vaccine is about one-third the dosage of the adult vaccine, and vaccine side effects were minimal during the clinical trials, according to the CDC.

Parents should contact their child’s healthcare provider or local pharmacy to schedule a vaccine appointment. Portland Public Schools (PPS) will also host eight after-school vaccination clinics for community members at Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary, César Chávez K-8, Faubion PK-8, Lent Elementary, Rigler Elementary, Rosa Parks Elementary, Scott Elementary, and Sitton Elementary. Dates for those clinic will be announced later this week.

While the PPS school board is currently considering a vaccine mandate for students ages 12 and older, students are not required to be vaccinated against COVID to attend school.

According to the OHA, 120,000 initial doses of the vaccine are currently being distributed to 350 healthcare providers around the state, with additional does arriving in the next couple days. The state health agency estimates that 180,000 doses of the vaccine is equivalent to a four- to six-week supply. About 330,000 children are now eligible for the vaccine, according to OHA estimates.

“It is completely normal for parents and kids to have questions about vaccines—I urge you to reach out to your family doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist and get your questions answered today,” Brown said in a press release.

“We hope vaccinating kids will help our communities continue to build population immunity that will protect our children, help keep them in school and ultimately bring this pandemic to an end,” Allen said.