KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized COVID-19 booster shots for children from age 5-11, the youngest age group yet.

Health departments on both sides of the state line are not administering boosters to that group just yet. They need state and CDC approval first. 

The 5-11 age group has the lowest vaccination rate in several areas across the Kansas CIty area. Health leaders hope that the newest news of approval from the FDA helps renew a sense of urgency when it comes to getting kids vaccinated. 

“While it’s largely been the case that covid tends to be less severe in children than adults,” Communications Manager with the Jackson Co. Health Dept. Mariah Cox said, “We have seen more kids getting sick and unfortunately hospitalized from the omicron variant.”

Only 23% of that 5-11 age group is fully vaccinated in easter Jackson Co., according to Cox.

In Johnson Co., nearly 39% are fully vaccinated. That’s compared to 70% of adults and 67% of 12-17-year-olds.

“With summer coming up, with vacations are coming up, summer camps, it’s a great way to help them not get sick from COVID,” Cox said, “and to help them not get a severe outcome from covid.”

Before the Jackson Co. Health Dept. can administer the booster to 5-11-year-olds, the state must update its standing order. Cox expects that to happen by the end of this week.

On the Kansas side, once the CDC and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment approve the distribution of booster doses to this age group, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment will offer the Pfizer booster to children ages 5-11, along with other age-appropriate immunizations, at its walk-in clinics in Olathe and Mission during regular business hours.

“As cases of the Omicron variant continue to increase in Johnson County and around the county, the booster dose will provide an extra layer of protection for children in this age group from severe disease, hospitalization and the long-term effects of COVID-19 which some children may experience, even if they initially had a mild illness,” Dr. Sanmi Areola, Director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment said.

Stores like HyVee tell FOX4 they need CDC approval, which could come in the next couple days. 

Mike Jeffries has a 3-year-old. They’re playing the waiting game — hoping her age group is next.

“The more people that can be protected by vaccines that work really well, the better,” Jeffries said.

Working for you, we found out that health departments are expecting another big announcement from the FDA in June. Children ages 6 months to 4 years old could soon get their first dose of the vaccine.

“While we’re doing mostly normal things, there are a few things, like getting on airplanes we’re waiting to do until she can get vaccinated,” Jeffries said. “So, I can’t wait for that to happen. going to feel even better about being normal.”

Parents are also encouraged to reach out to their child’s health care provider or visit vaccines.gov to find a nearby vaccine provider.

Johnson County, Kansas Health Department

Jackson County Health Department