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Minnesotans aged 5-11 now have access to the COVID-19 booster shots targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants, which have recently received emergency approval from federal authorities.

Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday that the bivalent boosters can now be administered to children between 5 and 11 years old at state-run community vaccination sites, with private providers also rolling them out after the CDC expanded the use of the boosters last week.

Getting up-to-date vaccines is considered to be the best chance of limiting the impact of COVID-19 this coming winter, after consecutive winters in which COVID cases and deaths have surged – first caused by the alpha variant in 2020 and then omicron in 2021.

The new booster, which is given as a smaller dose for 5-11 year olds than those aged 12 and over, can be given two months after a previous COVID vaccine or the original booster.

Vaccinations for the age group are starting this week at the following state-run sites (click the link to make an appointment).

"We're glad this younger age group can now benefit from the added protection of this updated booster to fight COVID-19," Walz said. "Making sure our kids are vaccinated can help them safely enjoy the school year, spend time with friends and family, and participate in all of the fun fall and winter activities our state has to offer."

Uptake for the latest round of COVID boosters has not been as strong as previous boosters and the original round of vaccines, with the latest figures showing that only 8.2% of Minnesotans are up to date with their vaccine doses, compared to 67.6% who completed their initial vaccine series.

“Having the updated bivalent booster available for children between ages 5 and 11 means we have another opportunity to protect this younger age group," said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. 

"The updated COVID-19 booster has been specifically formulated to protect against the original COVID-19 strain and the newer Omicron variants that have been making children and adults sick in recent months."

You can click here to find vaccine appointments near you.

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