Children under 5 years old are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines, but that doesn’t mean they’re available everywhere.

Finding doses for young children may be a little harder than it has been for other age groups, with most local pharmacies opting out and many pediatricians still waiting to receive the shots. The more limited availability raises concerns for equitable access, and the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium wants health providers to make it as easy as possible for working parents or families without primary care physicians to get children the shots, said JaBaris Swain, a doctor and one of the organization’s medical directors.

Also unclear, how much demand there actually is for the shots. Recent surveys have suggested the majority of parents are not going to rush to get their youngest children vaccinated.

“We don’t know what to anticipate about that demographic,” Swain said, “if there’s going to be a surge of folks or people are just going to sort of trickle in.”

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Here’s what parents need to know about getting COVID vaccine shots for children ages 6 months to 5 years old.

Is my child eligible?

All children older than 6 months are now eligible for vaccination against COVID.

There are two vaccine options, a two-shot series from Moderna, administered over four weeks, and a three-shot series from Pfizer BioNTech. The first two Pfizer doses are administered three weeks apart, and the third shot comes two months after that.

Is this the same vaccine that older children and adults have received?

They’re the same vaccines, but the concentrations given to the youngest children are much lower than for adults and older kids to reduce potential side effects. Moderna’s shots each deliver 25 micrograms of vaccine. Pfizer’s dose is just three micrograms.

Data reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration found about 25% of children experienced fevers as a side effect with the Moderna vaccine, while side effects from the Pfizer dose were negligible.

Can a young child get a COVID shot and other vaccines at the same time?

Yes. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said it was safe for children to receive other vaccines concurrently with their COVID shots.

Where can I find the COVID vaccine in Philadelphia for children under 5?

If you are looking for a vaccine for your young child, pharmacies, community clinics, and your pediatrician may all be options. Here’s what you need to know.

Pharmacies

This is complicated. The issue: Pharmacies aren’t allowed to administer doses to children under 3 years old. And many local pharmacies aren’t offering doses for 3- and 4-year-olds, either. That’s in part because it is a relatively small population, but also because pharmacies have been administering COVID vaccines to children through temporary federal and state waivers that are due to end.

Pennsylvania’s authorization allowing pharmacists to vaccinate children 9 and younger expires on July 15, said Robert Frankil, a pharmacist and executive director of the Philadelphia Association of Retail Druggists, which represents about 250 pharmacies concentrated around the Philadelphia region. A federal waiver, which supersedes the state order, expires in July, he said, though it may be extended. Still, the uncertainty has led many local pharmacies to opt out of the vaccination process for young children.

A few smaller pharmacies in the area plan to offer children’s doses, including Skippack Pharmacy, Eric’s RX Shoppe in Horsham, and Parkway Pharmacy in Philly.

Large chain pharmacies are administering COVID vaccines to children 3 and older. CVS has doses available now at its MinuteClinics. Registration is necessary at CVS.com or Minuteclinic.com. Walgreens anticipated making doses available to children 3 and older by Saturday, June 25, and recommends making appointments through Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine, the Walgreens app, or at 1-800-Walgreens. RiteAid expected to receive doses later this week and also requires an appointment, which can be made now through RiteAid.com/schedule.

Community clinics

The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium is hosting two clinics this week for children younger than 5, though they will give doses to anyone who attends. These are being held Thursday and Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at The Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity at 2001 W. Lehigh Ave. in North Philadelphia. The clinics allow appointments and walk-ins.

Philadelphia’s health clinics will carry vaccine doses as well, though they aren’t expected to arrive until Thursday. The city has ordered 900 doses. Clinics are still working out the details of when they will offer them to the public.

Bucks and Montgomery Counties both reported having doses for young children in stock, and Burlington County has scheduled clinics for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers at the Burlington County Health Department, 15 Pioneer Blvd., Westampton on Thursday and Friday this week and next. Appointments are required and can be made at signupgenius.com/go/peeweeclinics.

Pediatricians

Pediatricians are expected to be an important provider of vaccine doses, particularly for children younger than 3. Nationally, most pediatric offices participate in the Vaccines For Children program to administer routine childhood vaccinations, and in Philadelphia, about 60% of VFC participants are registered to provide COVID vaccine doses, too. Statewide, that number is about 70%, and in New Jersey, it is about 64%. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health noted some health-care providers may be registered to carry vaccines but won’t offer them in all offices, and will refer patients to a central location.

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Parents should confirm with their child’s doctor’s office whether they are providing COVID vaccines. Some doctors’ offices were waiting to place orders for the doses for children 6 months to 5 years old until after the vaccine received formal federal approval this past weekend. So those offices may not receive shipments until next week.

What documentation is needed?

COVID vaccines are free, with no proof of insurance required. A parent or guardian should accompany a child to get vaccinated and bring their own identification if they attend a clinic as well as any documentation they would normally provide for their children’s vaccinations, according to Pennsylvania’s Department of Health.

“Parents should contact the vaccine provider they plan to use to see what documents are required,” said Mark O’Neill, a spokesperson for the department, “as it may vary by provider.”

This story has been corrected to accurately report the CDC’s recommendations on concurrent vaccinations.

The Philadelphia Inquirer is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push toward economic justice. See all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.