Michigan’s Top Medical Doctor Addresses Concerns About COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids Ages 5-11

It’s a critical time for the state, Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian says, as the temperatures drop and people gather indoors for the holidays amid a higher transmission rate of the virus compared to this time last year.

Vaccinations for children ages 5 through 11 have been approved for COVID-19. Roughly 850,000 kids in the state are now eligible for the shot. Health officials are urging families with young ones to schedule an appointment, especially as the winter months approach. Doctors are recommending a flu shot for children and adults as well. 

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, says parents are in the right to have concerns and questions. Bagdasarian says it’s important to look at all of the facts but most importantly, listen to a primary care physician. 

As pediatricians’ offices and pharmacies start to take appointments, Bagdasarian urges parents to have some patience, adding there will be enough vaccines for everyone who wants to get their children vaccinated.

“We have doses going to a variety of places to make this as convenient as possible for parents,” she says. “We’ve got almost 200,000 doses that have gone to the local health departments, we have about 2,500 doses that have gone to [Federally Qualified Health Clinics] and tribes, over 200,000 doses going to hospital pharmacies and pediatricians.”

There may be many kids in the 5-11 age range who are afraid of needles or getting the shot, which is one reason why the state is not focusing on holding large-scale vaccine clinics like the one at Ford Field earlier this year.

“We’re more committed to giving vaccines to places where vaccines could be administered by a trusted pediatrician and trusted family physician to avoid some of those scary feelings,” she says. “Local health departments have been doing a great job of making sure that kids have a safe space to receive their vaccine where they may feel more comfortable.”

Bagdasarian says the transmission rate of COVID-19 now compared to the same time last year is higher. She adds it’s also viral respiratory season when other viruses such as the flu transmit.

It’s a critical time for the state, she says, as the temperatures drop and people gather indoors for the holidays. She encourages people to gather safely.

“That would mean getting vaccinated well ahead of time so if you get vaccinated now you may have a little bit of protection for the holidays,” she says. “And then also, avoid very large gatherings, try to gather in well-ventilated spaces or even outdoors if the weather permits. And if you are going to a large indoor gathering, it’s still important to wear a mask with the amount of transmission we have right now.”

Listen: Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian talks about how to stay safe ahead of the holiday season.

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  • Tia Graham
    Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.